Agenda and minutes

Cheshire East Countryside Access Forum
Thursday, 11th June, 2015 10.00 am

Venue: The Silk Room - Town Hall, Macclesfield SK10 1EA. View directions

Contact: Rachel Graves 

No. Item


Welcome, apologies and introductions


Apologies were received from John Handley and Genni Bulter, Countryside Access Development Officer.


Membership Update and Recruitment pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Bob Anderson


Bob Anderson reported that the recruitment process had commenced with invitation letters, newspaper adverts and web notice being send out during week being 11 May. The deadline for responses was 22 June, after which a shortlisting exercise would be carried out and interview invitations sent out.


Members were asked to speak to their networks and contacts in order to bring the recruitment process to the attention of as many people as possible.


Reports from members


Minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2015 pdf icon PDF 43 KB


Matters Arising


Minute 5  - NE Withdrawal of Regional LAF Co-ordinators

The Forum agreed to send a letter to local MPs asking for their assistance in persuading Natural England to continue its support for Local Access Forums.  The letter would also be circulated to North West Local Access Forum Chairs with a suggestion that they take similar action.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2015 be confirmed as a correct record.




Rural Road Safety Sub Group


Linda Rose reported on the Rural Road Safety meeting held in May with Parish Councils.  The meeting had been well attended and had discussed the following issues:


·         Speeding

·         Traffic calming

·         Verge obstruction

·         Liaison with other organisations involved in road safety


It was hoped that a meeting could be arranged with the Cabinet Member responsible for Highways – Cllr David Brown, to highlight road safety issues at a strategic level.  


A previous initiative ‘Quiet Lanes’ had been mentioned at the meeting.  Local authorities had been able to designate roads for which they were responsible for as quiet lanes as part of a wider strategy to promote sustainable transport and lower speed limits on country lanes and through villages.  CPRE had supported this initiative at the time and it was suggested that they be contacted for discussion on what could be done to highlight rural road safety.


The Forum had been invited to be part of Knutsford Police Rural Day on
12 July, which was being held on the Scout Field, Mobberley and would include displays on rural life, road safety, falconry, the Fire Service and traffic police officers.  Members were asked for ideas for a display to promote the Forum.





Forum Publicity


Carole Bentley reported she had shared the latest draft of an article on verge obstructions with Forum members, which highlighted that verges were part of the highway and that bollards and stones placed on the verges were classed as obstructions. She had taken photographs of some examples and asked members for any suitable photographs which could be used in the article.  It was suggested that the reason why these obstructions were placed on verges should be included in the article.


The Chair had circulated a leaflet he had drafted on driving safely on rural roads and asked for comments.  It was suggested that other road safety organisations should be contacted to see if they would support the leaflet in a joint inivitive.


Access for All Sub Group


It was reported that the More Walks for All leaflet would be published shortly.


Other Reports pdf icon PDF 20 KB

·         Mapping All Routes

·         Multi-User Routes

Additional documents:


It had been raised at the last Forum meeting whether permissive routes over Council owned land could be recorded on the Council’s Interactive Mapping system online and also on Ordnance Survey maps.


Mike Taylor reported that a decision would need to be made by the Council as there needed to be co-ordination between all the departments who owned the land and some may not wish for the routes to be recorded as permissive.  Imputing the detail onto the Interactive Mapping system would take time and financial resources. 


A question on whether a protocol existed for Multi User routes had been raised at the Rights of Way Consultative Group following a Ramblers’ group experience on a towpath, bridleways and the Middlewood Way linear county park.   Concern was also raised about damage to surfaces by some category of users which made paths difficult to use by others.


It was reported that Canal towpaths were open for use by walkers and cyclists and that the Canal and River Trust has launched a Better Towpaths for Everyone policy which encouraged users to share the limited widths available.  Where the surface of a bridleway route was difficult to use by walkers due to equestrian traffic, the Public Rights of Way team would access each case individually. It may be that some surface work or drainage work could help to mitigate the problem,  It was not possible under Highways Law or feasible to segregate users.  On shared routes such as the Middlewood Way segregation was encouraged although not enforced.  It was commented that the signage could be improved as it was not always obvious which side of the route should be used.


Canoeing and Waterways Access - the Forum's Potential Role

Chris Cleaver, British Canoeing


Chris Cleaver, Regional Waterways Adviser, gave a presentation to the Forum on the work of British Canoeing.


British Canoeing was a national governance body which promoted standards and paddles skills amongst canoeist. It highlighted environmental awareness by running campaigns such as cleaning canoes after use to avoid transference of invasive species, and published guidance on behaviour.  Their objective was to make more places for canoeing available and enable better access to rivers, canals and lakes.


Access to waterways was an issue for canoeists as the legal situation was unclear as in the 19th century an opinion  was formed viewing inland waters as private, the property of the landowners who owned the river/lake banks but no legislation had been passed by Parliament.  Access to rivers was excluded from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Less than 4% of rivers in England and Wales have undisputed public access or have a right of navigation. Rivers and canals that were maintained as navigations were accessible, subject to payment for a licence. 


It was noted that there were relatively few access points to the canals, and that even when a map showed a footpath crossing a canal it was often impossible to access the towpath from the footpath.  It was agreed that the Forum should make contact with the Canal and River Trust on the subject of access to their network, since canals formed the majority of navigable waterways in Cheshire East.


Canal and River Trust - Sharing Towpaths Consultation Response and Access to Water pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Wendy Capelle, Waterways Manager, Canal and River Trust

Additional documents:


Apologies had been received from Wendy Capelle, Waterways Manager, Canal and River Trust and no other representative had been available to attend the Forum meeting.


The Canal and River Trust had consulted nationally on its Sharing Towpaths project which aimed to put together a national towpath use policy.  A total of 2,148 people had completed the on-line survey, 88 responded to the sharing towpaths email address and three workshops had been held with stakeholders, local authorities and partners.  The Forum had responded to the consultation highlighting maintenance, access to towpaths, user conflict and obstructions as issues. 


The Trust had considered the responses and had published a new national towpath policy – ‘Better Towpaths for Everyone’.  The new policy aimed to embrace the diversity of users whilst encouraging considerate behaviour.  Key principles in the policy were:

·         Principles of towpath use: priority given to those moving the slowest and those using the waterway

·         Better infrastructure: continue to improve the physical condition of the towpaths

·         Better signs: encouraging safer sharing such as at blind spots, pinch points and on busier towpath stretches, where there may also be moored boats

·         Better behaviour: ‘Share the Space, Drop your Pace’ campaign would  be extended to all the Trust’s waterways.





Public Rights of Way Resources pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Mike Taylor


Mike Taylor reported on the financial and staff resources of the Public Rights of Way team, details of which had been included in the agenda pack and included information for  2015/16. 


He reported that the Public Rights of Way Team consisted of:

·         Rights of Way Manager

·         3x Definitive Map Modification Officers,

·         Public Path Orders Officer

·         3x PROW Network Management and Enforcement Officers

·         Countryside Access Officer

·         Technical Support Officer.  


The Team worked closely with Countryside Management and reported to the Visitor Economy, Culture and Tatton Park Manager, who in turn reported to the Executive Director of Economic Growth and Prosperity.





Rights of Way Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Mike Taylor


Mike Taylor reported on the progress with the current projects in the Cheshire East Rights of Way Improvement Plan.  These included updates on:


·         Knutsford Footpath Nos.14 and 15

·         Congleton Bridleway No.31

·         Crewe Footpath Nos. 3 and 36 upgrade to Cycle Track status

·         Middlewood Way and Station Access Path

·         Congleton Bridleway No.1

·         Public Health funded circular walk in Crewe.




New Matters Arising



Dale Langham commented on the content of the Visit Cheshire website.  He noted that the site did not always give the mileage of routes and that the routes were not graded.  Dale was asked to provide a short note of the issues for the Chairman to share with Genni Butler. It was also suggested that the new More Walks for All leaflet be added to the website.


Linda Rose reported on discussions being held to open up access thorough a park, which would provide links to other user routes such as a nearby promoted horse and cycle route.  A site meeting had taken place with Parks Management and public consultation would be carried out with the people affected if the route was opened up.




Date of Next Meeting

10.00 am on Thursday 10 September 2015 in the East Committee Room, Municipal Buildings, Earle Street, Crewe, CW1 2BJ


The next meeting will held on Thursday 10 September 2015 in the East Committee Room, Municipal Building, Earle Street, Crewe.