The landowner is responsible for making sure that any stiles and gates are kept in a good state of repair. We have a duty to make sure that landowners do this and to offer a grant of 25% towards repairing or replacing gates and stiles.
We have a discretionary power to extend this grant and will usually provide a 100% grant by doing the work at no cost to the landowner. Our ‘least restrictive’ principle means that we would usually only provide materials for a stile, but will pay for the installation of a gate. This discretionary grant will be withdrawn if landowners fail to co-operate, are obstructing other public rights of way or do not complete work within a reasonable time.
If the occupier of the land wishes to install more stiles or gates on footpaths or bridleways, they must apply to us in writing for permission. Erecting stiles or gates without this permission is a criminal offence. We can only authorise new stiles/gates that are required for stock control purposes along footpaths or bridleways. Stiles and additional gates cannot be erected on 'restricted byways' or 'byways open to all traffic'.
We share responsibility for the repair and maintenance of bridges and culverts with landowners and our exact responsibilities are different in each case. We are responsible for most footbridges, but where a public footpath or bridleway crosses a bridge with private vehicular rights, the maintenance of the bridge to allow vehicles is likely to be the responsibility of the landowner. We may agree to share the responsibility for maintenance in some cases.
The rail authority is responsible for the structure of most footbridges over railway lines, whilst British Waterways is responsible for the structure of all bridges over the canal network. We are responsible for the surfaces of the paths over these bridges.