A COMMITMENT to get volunteers back out onto the footpaths they once helped to keep in order has been given by one Herefordshire councillor.

The Hereford Times reported last week that the county's ramblers had followed the Prime Minister's Big Society vision by building foot-bridges and repairing styles and gates found on many of the county's footpaths to save the taxpayer money.

But since Balfour Beatty took over from Amey in delivering public realm services last September, health and safety rules have prevented the ramblers from continuing their work.

Now, cabinet member for infrastructure councillor Phillip price has hit back in defence of volunteers.

He said: "I understand that there are rules and regulations that Balfour Beatty must abide by, but when these volunteers are working hard on behalf of the community we must support them. I will be investigating this matter and working to resolve it it.

"Where there is a will, there's a way. They have shown the will in helping as they do and now I must help to find the way to resolve this. I and my colleagues are grateful to them for all that they do in making our environment better for locals and visitors."

Arthur Lee, chairman of Herefordshire Ramblers, added that the group has received a number of responses following last week's report.

He said: "We have had a couple of councillors who are keen to become involved in some way or another. We are also hoping to work with a group called Time for Change, looking at environmental issues."

Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, said he wants to see Balfour Beatty "mending roads".

"So it seems very sensible they allow the ramblers to mend our footpaths," he said.

"I am sure that they will see sense and we shouldn't be too hard on them for wanting to ensure that they are protecting healthy and safety but come on Balfour Beatty, fix our roads."

Will Steel, public rights of way manager with Balfour Beatty, added that his company was looking for a solution to the situation.