Tynwald has unanimously backed a report demanding increased maintenance on footpaths in the island.
A select committee formed last year that manages the maintenance of the island’s footpaths, green lanes and bridleways has recommended that there be more investment in the area.
Its formation was approved after a motion presented by Douglas South MHK Sarah Maltby, who picked up a petition by David Buttery on Tynwald Day last year.
Mrs Maltby told the Tynwald sitting yesterday that the footpath network was ‘unsafe’.
She said: ‘The footpath network is in parts unsafe, certainly unloved and as our biggest island natural asset is in need of investment.
‘I recognise that tough decisions have had to be made about government spending in recent years but this shouldn’t have been at the expense of neglect of public right of way, which after all the Department of Infrastructure has a duty to maintain.’
Mr Buttery said when he presented the petition: ‘It’s been getting worse. I have an Airbnb and it’s a bit of an embarrassment, you get customers over here for the finest walking destinations in the British Isles and half of them are overgrown or have broken decking for example, it’s stupid things.’
The 64-year-old suggested in his petition that one agency takes responsibility, rather than three. He added: ‘What we need is a single agency, one body responsible if you like.
‘They’ve all got different things going on, they’ve got different budgets, different agendas, so it’s very easy for them to say water or the promenade is more important, whereas if you had a single agency and that’s all it does, that could work better.’
The Department of Infrastructure has also been tasked to present a report next year on how it will address a backlog of changes to maps.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Thomas said: ‘The Council of Ministers acknowledge that this report will be submitted but I stress to you now that the process set out in the Highways Act 1986 affects these changes. Basically, the current process is long and wieldy and any report will have to reflect the current legislation.’
The setting up of a working group was also recommended to take care of other footpath issues.
Douglas East MHK Joney Faragher said: ‘Our footpaths network is a huge asset.
‘If we build proper maintenance and network enhancement our footpath network could be a world-leading asset.
‘It’s also a huge contributor to the wellbeing, both physical and mental, of our population.
‘Our ancient rights to walk our land should be valued and protected, so I really do welcome these recommendations to improve our footpaths network.’
Mrs Maltby previously said on picking up the petition: ‘It’s one of those things where if you’ve got two or three government departments, who are all responsible for cutting footpaths, is that good value for money? Is that efficient?
‘Is this not proving the point that lots of people make that inter-governmental departments [are] not working, and we need to have a bit more of a slicker approach to things.
‘I’m highlighting just how inefficient some of the procedures are and [we] can do better than this.’