The BHS has uncovered “disturbing evidence” that local authority Rights of Way funds are being used for other purposes

Government money intended to help implement the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act is being diverted to other local authority departments, according to the BHS.

The society has uncovered research from the Institute of Public Rights of Way Officers, which shows that only 19 out of 47 highway authorities have allocated any additional funds to implement the act.

Of the 19 that have done so, “most have allocated considerably less than the sum required to undertake the task”.

The money was intended to help set up local access forums and for the preparation of Rights of Way Improvement Plans.

BHS chief executive, Kay Driver, said: “The CROW Act gives us 24 years to identify and log all rights of way on the definitive map.

“There is a huge amount to do and the BHS is delighted that the Minister for Rural Affairs, Alun Michael, has made funds available.

“Statutory duties are laid on local authorities in the Act and local authority rights of way departments need these funds.”

The BHS estimates that there are more than 3,000 accidents a year involving horses on the roads.

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