Venue: Room2.4, Cheshire West and Chester Council Offices, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE
Contact: Rachel Graves Democratic Services Officer
Welcome, Introductions and Apologies (10.00-10.05)
Neil Collie, as Vice Chairman, took the chair for the meeting.
Apologies were received from Helen Connolly, Dale Langham, Keith Pennyfather and Mike Taylor.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2012.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 21 September 2012 be agreed as a correct record.
Sue Stevenson, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Sue Stevenson from Stockport Borough Council briefed the Forum on the South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy.
Part of this strategy was the proposal to build the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road. This would be a dual carriageway linking the A6 at Hazel Grove to the eastern end of the existing A555 at Woodford Road, Bramhall and from the western end of the existing A555 at Wilmslow Road, Handforth to Manchester Airport.
A number of public rights of way including footpaths and bridleways along the proposed route would be affected by the construction of the road. It was planned to minimise disruption to routes, and where possible, to improve them. However, some public rights of way would be diverted to ensure safe crossing points of the new road were created. Details of the public rights of way affected could be found on the SEMMMS website - http://www.semmms.info/a6/consultation/localarea
Also new pedestrian and cycle facilities were being proposed along the entire length of the scheme. These new facilities would be integrated with existing public rights of ways and existing dedicated cycle routes.
Public consultation was being carried out on the junction options for six locations along the route from 22 October 2012 to 25 January 2013. A leaflet on the consultation was circulated to those present and members were encouraged to respond. A second phase of consultation would follow on the preferred scheme prior to a planning application being submitted.
Further details on the proposals were available on the SEMMMS website - www.semmms.info
Cheshire West and Chester Council were proposing to make a Dog Control Order which would require that dogs were kept on a lead whilst on part of the Neston to Deeside Greenway.
The Council had reached an agreement with the landowners – RSPB and MoD, to allow the construction of a new multi-user route which would run from Neston Town Centre to centres of employment in Deeside, North Wales and Chester.
Part of the route ran across the RSPB reserve at Burton Point and the RSPB let the land to a local sheep farmer. There had been incidents in the past where dogs had interfered with livestock. The RSPB were also concerned about potential problems with ground nesting birds in the area.
Given that the landowners were facilitating public access on their land and were not seeking to bar dogs from their land completely, the Council thought it not unreasonable to provide some legal protection in the form of a Dog Control Order. It was understood that Flintshire County Council would be promoting a similar Dog Control Order on their part of the mulit-user route.
Forum members were asked to forward any comments on the proposals to Laura Shakeshaft, Greenspace Operations and Network Team Leader at Cheshire West and Chester Council – email@example.com
Future Forums and Recruitment (11.15-11.20)
Genni Butler and Hazel Barber
The two new Local Access Forums would be established in early 2013. Forum members were asked to indicate on a form circulated if they were willing to be considered for appointment to either of the new Forums.
For the Cheshire East Forum, Genni Butler reported that the recruitment process would start next week with the aim to have the first meeting in March 2013.
The draft Annual Report for 2011-12 had been circulated with the agenda.
Members suggested a number of amendments including
Forum members were asked to send any further comments to Hazel Barber/Genni Butler as soon as possible so that the Annual Report could be finalised and published.
Update Reports from Working Groups (11.20-11.30)
Members of the Working Groups gave an update on their work since the last meetings:
Neil Collie reported that a number of projects were in the process of bidding for Path for Communities Funding. These included the two projects which had given presentations at previous Forum meetings and there was also a project to create new public rights of way in Dane Meadow, Holmes Chapel.
Salle Dare stated that Natural England had not received as many applications for Funding as expected and that Natural England could help to put bids together if needed. There had been comments that the forms were difficult to understand.
Under Represented Groups
The Group had nothing to report at present.
Keith Osborn reported that the NICE Public Health Guidance on Walking and Cycling had now been published.
Neil Collie and Genni Butler
Genni Butler updated the Forum on the two road schemes in Cheshire East.
Since the public consultation event on the A556 Knutsford to Bowden Improvement Scheme, the Highways Agency had selected a preferred route and junction options. They had also made a number of changes to the proposed design to accommodate the comments from the pubic. These included:
· the de-trunking of the A556 Chester Road to create a more rural local road carrying relatively low traffic flows which would be enhanced by the provision of a separate track for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders;
· improved crossing facilities for non-motorised uses at Mere Junction and Bucklow Hill Junction;
· an underpass under the new A556 mainline at Old Hall Lane solely for pedestrians, dismounted horse riders and cyclists;
· extension of Cherry Tree lane southwards to connect with the de-trunked Chester Road which would open up potential circular journeys using Cherry Tree Road and Rostherne Lanes, allowing north-south journeys past Rostherne Mere without using the trunk road and allowing easier access to the Ashley Toll Ride; and
· the status of the footpath crossing the M56 via Tom Lane being upgraded to allow use by cyclists as well as pedestrians and would be diverted to join the re-modelled Bowdon Junction.
The Crewe Green Link Road was a proposed relief road between Weston Road/University Way roundabout at the south-eastern edge of Crewe and the roundabout on the A500 to the south of Crewe. The scheme was being developed by Cheshire East Council Highways. Planning approval had now been given for the scheme. The Cheshire East Rights of Way Team had held discussions with the developers regarding the design considerations on the proposed shared use pedestrian/cyclist facility along the spine road and spur roads and on the treatment of Basford Footpath No.1 which may be affected by a spur road.
Adele Mayer updated the Forum on the Oakmere Bridleway Paths for Communities Fund application.
Since the presentation at the last Forum meeting, the development of the proposed route had been split into two phases. The first phase would to apply for funding for a multi-user route from Stoneyford Lane along the north and west boundary edge of the quarry owned by Tarmac Ltd and across the access land. The second phase would now be a footpath across the Crown Estate Land to Delamere Forest due to planning considerations resulting in the agreement for a multi-user path being put on hold.
The Mid Cheshire Bridleway Association had received letters of support for the multi-user path from the British Horse Society, Mid Cheshire Ramblers, Delamere Running Club, CTC, Network Rail, a local bus company and some local businesses, It was suggested that Forum should sent a letter of support for Oakmere Way.
That the Vice Chairman, on behalf of the Forum, send a letter of support to the Mid Cheshire Bridleway Association for Oakmere Way.
Hazel Barber and Genni Butler
Members were updated on the Rights of Way Improvement Plans for Cheshire East and Cheshire West & Chester.
The progress on the following Cheshire West and Chester projects identified in their Five Year Plan was reported:
The report for Cheshire East outlined details of the progress since the last meeting on the following current projects:
Feedback from North West Regional LAF Chairs' Meeting (12.20-12.30)
At the request of the Forum, John White had attended the meeting of the North West Regional LAF Chairs’ meeting in October.
He reported that Salle Dare had been introduced as the Natural England co-ordinator for the North West and that he presentation by the Canal and River Trust had been postponed to a future meeting.
Discussions had been held on:
· costal access
· the awaited response from Defra on their consultation on changes to public rights of way procedure
· National Trails consultation
· temporary fencing of Access Land
· the split of Cheshire Local Access Forum
· NICE Public Health Guidance on Walking and Cycling
· decrease in Local Authority support for access to countryside
Salle Dare reported that the next meeting of the North West Chairs’ was on 7 February 2013 which was before the two new Forums would be established and asked if it could be arranged that representatives were sent from both Forums. She also reported that the National Conference was on 27 February 2013 in Sheffield and if anybody wished to attend to let her know.
Reports from Members and Matters Arising (12.30-12.45)
Andrew Needham reported that it had been stated in the Chester Chronicle that Little Budworth Country Park could close due to cutbacks by Cheshire West and Cheshire Council. The Country Park had been run by the Council and its predecessor since the late 1970. The lease was due to expire at the end of February 2013.
In response Ian Hesketh said that the Council was not in a position to run the Park as it had previously. Discussions were being held with the Trustees of the Estate, which included looking at different ways the Park could be managed. The Park would not be closing at the end of February 2013 as the lease would roll forward until an agreement had been made or 3 months notice of termination been given.
There was also concern that if the Park was closed that only the definitive footpath routes would be available to the public and that this could lead to a number of DMMO applications as there were no permissive arrangements in place for the other paths that crossed the Park.
Andrew Needham also reported that Defra has issued a discussion paper on a possible merger of Natural England and the Environment Agency to form a single environmental organisation. The deadline for comments was 4 February 2013. The discussion paper could be viewed on the Defra website:-
Neil Collie said that a collection would be held at the end of the meeting for contributions towards a memorial for John Taylor. It was hoped that a suitable location could be found on the Crewe to Nantwich Greenway for a tree with memorial plague.
Closing Remarks for the Final Meeting of the Cheshire Local Access Forum
The Vice Chairman thanked Forum members and Officers for their contributions and support to the Cheshire Local Access Forum over the last three years.
This was echoed by the Officers of both Councils who thanked members for their participation at Forum meetings and also for their contributions between meetings and in other areas of access work.