Agenda and minutes

Cheshire East Countryside Access Forum
Thursday, 12th March, 2015 2.00 pm

Venue: East Committee Room - Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe, CW1 2BJ. View directions

Contact: Rachel Graves 

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome, Apologies and Introductions

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Carole Bentley.

2.

Minutes of the Meeting held 4 December 2014 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Minutes:

Matters arising

 

Minute 29 - Congleton Relief Road

Genni Butler reported that an underpass was now proposed for Public Footpath No.2 Eaton, rather than the Footpath being stopped up at the new road, following the request from the Forum.

 

Minute 30(d) – More Walks for All Leaflet

The new More Walks for All leaflet is intended to be published in May 2015.

 

Minute 34 – Public Rights of Way Resources

Mike Taylor reported that there had been an increase in demand on officer time due to the increased need to respond to planning consultations.  It was suggested that Resources be added as an agenda item for the next meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 December 2014 be confirmed as a correct record.

3.

Membership Update and Recruitment Process pdf icon PDF 23 KB

Genni Butler

Minutes:

Following the resignation of Gillian Herdman, the membership of the Forum now stood at 9 members.  The Local Access Forum (England) Regulations 2007 required Forums to have at least 10 and not more than 22 members.  It was therefore proposed that a recruitment exercise be undertaken.

 

A proposed timetable for recruitment was outlined which detailed that invitation letters to selected organisations/individuals and newspaper adverts/web notices would be sent week beginning 11 May 2015, with a deadline for responses of 22 June 2015.  Following shortlisting, interview invitations would be sent out for 13 July 2015.  Acceptance of any appointments would be required by 24 August 2015 to enable new member induction to be carried out before the Forum meeting on 10 September 2105.

 

Members were asked for any suggestions of organisations to which the invitation letter could be sent.

 

Forum members were asked if they could indicate if they would be continuing or standing down when their present term of membership ended in March 2016.  This was to ensure that sufficient members could be recruited from this exercise to avoid having to carry out another in 2016.

 

The Forum considered the timings of future meetings and decided that the availability of potential new members during the days and evenings of the working week be sought during the application process, as before.

4.

Reports from Members

4a

Rural Road Safety Sub Group

Minutes:

Linda Rose reported that a follow up meeting to the Rural Road Safety meeting with parish councils would be held in April.   She had received a number of phone calls following the event from interested parties.  It was hoped that the discussions could be held with other parish councils not in the original pilot target group.

 

The Police in Knutsford had approached her about organising an Open Day Event to highlight road safety issues for walkers, cyclists and equestrians.

 

In a discussion on road safety issues, members raised the following points:

·         campaign for 30 mph on roads with no line down the middle – these roads are not wide enough for two cars

·         establish a link with motoring organisations – the AA are active on social media on road safety issues

·         engagement with the Highways Agency

·         what are responsibilities of local authorities and Department of Transport

·         what can the parish councils do

·         the reduction in traffic police means less enforcement of speed limits

·         roads in Germany have grading and corresponding speed limits

·         engagement with police to get clear idea of problem

·         promotion of road safety at events

 

The Working Group was asked to continue working on these ideas and bring specific proposals back to the Forum.

4b

Forum Publicity

Minutes:

Carole Bentley had circulated details of articles about the work of the Forum which had been successfully published in the local press.

 

She had issued a report on the Rural Road Safety Group meeting, which had been used in the printed version of the Knutsford Guardian, the newsletter of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils and in the PACE Partnership Newsletter . 

4c

Access for All Sub Group

Minutes:

The Sub Group had nothing further to report at present.

 

4d

Other Reports

Minutes:

Pat Featherstone reported that she had attended a training day for Forum members run by the Black Environmental Network which had discussed how to encourage people into the countryside and for it to be seen as a fun and pleasant experience.  As a way of encouraging minority groups to access the countryside, it was suggested that events be arranged and they be invited specifically as some groups had their own transport to get to the events.

5.

Natural England's Withdrawal of Regional LAF Coordinators

Bob Anderson

Minutes:

The Chairman reported that support for the Local Access Forums Regional Co-ordinator post was being withdrawn by Natural England.   The Forum had submitted a letter to the relevant Director of Natural England encouraging a change in this decision.

 

 

6.

Rail Crossing Diversion Orders pdf icon PDF 30 KB

Mike Taylor

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mike Taylor reported on Rail Crossing Diversion Orders in Cheshire East. 

 

The issue of Rail Crossing Diversion Orders had been raised at the North West Regional Chairs’ meeting in February 2015.  Merseyside Local Access Forum were contesting an Order as Network Rail were replacing level crossings on the Liverpool to Southport line with stair-accessed bridges following a fatality - the bridges being a barrier for disabled people to access places along the rail line.

 

Within Cheshire East there were 29 at-grade PROW level crossing; 28 public footpaths and 1 bridleway.  The Public Rights of Way team had held a number of meetings with Network Rail to discuss the approach to these crossings.  This had resulted in an agreed programme of work to promote a number of rail crossing diversions and extinguishment orders with a pilot programme for a number of paths in the Mobberley area crossing the Chester to Manchester line.  Another team within Network Rail were proposing rail crossing orders in the parish of Stapeley, Nantwich.

 

The Transport and Works Act 1992 introduced into the Highways Act 1980 under sections 118A and 119A, powers to close or divert footpaths and bridleways that cross railway lines on the level (‘at-grade’ crossing).  The powers are directed primarily at improving public safety.  An application must be made to the Highway Authority by Network Rail in each case and there were legal tests to be satisfied before an Order could be made.

 

The approach taken by the Public Rights of Way Team would be identical to conventional Public Path Orders in that whilst assessing proposals against the legal test in the legislation, they would also work to minimise any net loss in either walking/riding experience or network length.

 

The Forum’s attention was drawn to recent cases and correspondence including the Mexico Crossing case in Penzance, Cornwall and an open letter from Defra to Network Rail which challenged Network Rail about its existing approach to applications for rail crossing orders.

 

The Forum asked to be kept informed on the rail crossing orders in Cheshire East.

 

7.

Rural Road Safety Group pdf icon PDF 34 KB

Linda Rose

Minutes:

A written report on the Rural Road Safety meeting with Parish Councils on 14 January 2015 was included in the agenda.

 

The event has started with an introduction from Linda Rose on the work of Cheshire East Local Access Forum.  A video produced by the Horse & Road Safety Awareness was shown.  This was followed by Carole Bentley speaking on the problems faced by walkers on rural roads.  John Handley gave a talk from the cyclist’s viewpoint and Linda presented the equestrian’s perspective.  Kevin Skillings, Senior Road Safety Engineer at Cheshire East Highways gave a presentation on the challenges faced in seeking to achieve road safety.  The representatives from the Parishes were then prompted to consider the issues within their own local areas.

 

8.

Draft Annual Report 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 16 KB

Genni Butler

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The draft Annual Report for 2014-15 had been circulated with the agenda.

 

Members made a number of comments and suggested amendments including:

 

·         More positive wording in the Chair’s Introduction

·         Include the location of the photographs on front cover 

·         Include attendance at an East Cheshire Ramblers’ meeting in spreading the word about the work of Forum

 

The Annual Report would bee published in April 2015.  The Forum thanked Genni for her work in producing the Annual Report.

 

9.

Draft Deregulation Bill and Infrastructure Act 2015

Mike Taylor and Genni Butler

Minutes:

Mike Taylor reported on the latest developments with the draft Deregulation Bill.

 

The Bill had received its third reading in the House of Lords and the House of Commons amendments would be consider by the Lord before end of March and the dissolution of Parliament for the elections.  It was expected to be given Royal Assent by the Lord Commissioners.

 

Attention was drawn to guidance on the Bill in relation to public rights of way issues produced by John Trevelyan, which was available on his website -  www.rowtac.co.uk.

10.

Rights of Way Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Genni Butler

Minutes:

Genni Butler reported on the progress with the current projects in the Cheshire East Rights of Way Improvement Plan.  These included:

 

·         Crewe Public Footpaths Nos.3 and 36 upgrade to cycle track status

·         Cranage to Holmes Chapel off-road link

·         CAMS Web Portal

·         Middlewood Way and station access path

·         High Legh off road link to school from housing area

·         Congleton Bridleway No.1

·         Public Health Funding for circular walk in Crewe

 

The Forum was pleased to see that a number of the projects on the Plan had now been completed.

11.

New Matters Arising

All

Minutes:

Genni Butler reported that the preferred route for the Poynton bypass had now been decided and that overbridges were planned for the two affected rights of way.  A user survey would be carried to help inform the Environmental Impact Assessment and would be based on the same specification as used for the Congleton Relief Road.

 

Dale Langham asked if permissive routes could be recorded on interactive mapping.  It was agreed that this would be looked into, to see if it was possible and a report brought to the Forum.

 

It was suggested that the Canal and River Trust be invited to a future meeting to discuss access on canal tow-paths.  The issue of access to rivers was also raised, with a suggestion that the British Canoe Union being invited to the Forum.

12.

Date of Next Meeting

10.00 am on Thursday 11 June 2015 in the Silk Room, Macclesfield Town Hall

Minutes:

The next meeting will be on Thursday 11 June 2015 at 10.00 am in the Silk Room at Macclesfield Town Hall.