VOLUNTEERS have finally been able to get back out onto the footpaths that red tape prevented them from working on.

The Hereford Times reported earlier this year how Herefordshire Ramblers followed the Prime Minister’s Big Society vision by building foot-bridges and repairing stiles and gates found on many of the county’s footpaths.

The work was carried out at no cost to the public purse and saved the council’s then contract partner Amey from taking on the jobs, primarily on the Herefordshire Trail.

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

Finally, earlier this month the ramblers were able to get back out onto the Herefordshire Trail – just north of Leominster – to erect a way-marker post.

"The site was about a half a mile distance from the A44 Leominster to Bromyard road on footpath ZC129," said Arthur Lee, chairman of Herefordshire Ramblers.

"We had to carry the post and tools from the roadside up the path to the required position, check the site for any possible risks, dig the hole and put in the post and make firm in the ground. When complete we had to the carry the tools back to the car.

"It is hoped this will just be the start of many more work party days doing work on the Herefordshire Trail.

We must thank all who made this possible, Herefordshire Council, Ballfour Beatty Living Places and Herefordshire Ramblers and hope this will be a long-running partnership."

In a statement, Herefordshire Council confirmed that Balfour Beatty Living Places is continuing to support the efforts of volunteers on the public rights of way network in a number of ways.

"It works directly with a group led by Herefordshire Ramblers to carry out improvements such as vegetation clearance and the installation of gates and signs and indirectly supports many Parish and Town Councils across the county to look after footpaths and bridleways in their area," the statement said.

"Materials, tools, advice and training is provided to ensure that the work done by volunteers is done safely and effectively both for the volunteers themselves and the public that use the paths."