MLAF - Medway Local Access Forum

                                               Annual Report from April 2012 to March 2013

 

Name of LAF:  MEDWAY

Name of LAF Chair:  Rita Hunt

Name of LAF Secretary:  Ann Pywell

Number of LAF members:  10

 

1 - Involvement and Representation

 

What interests does your current membership cover?  Open Spaces Society, Ramblers, Parish Council, Country Side Group, Cycling, British Horse Society, National Farmers Union, Footpaths Group, Health Improvement and Friends.

What skills, sectors, interest groups, experience are missing?  Would like to see representatives from 4x4, Tourism, Education and Disabled on the LAF.

Describe any difficulties you had recruiting members from particular sectors:  Have tried to get people from the above groups interested but have not been successful so far.

 

2 - Operation of LAF

 

What procedures (e.g. expense claims, new applications etc) do you follow that help you work effectively? Are these effective?  Expense claims for travel which have been effective.

How do you ensure that your members are able to work as a team?  Medway LAF hold a mid-meeting of Members only to set agenda for the main meeting, discuss previous Minutes and to encourage everyone to speak and highlight any issues or projects..

In what ways do you reach consensus?  Healthy discussion at meetings and show of hands if required.

How do you ensure proper conduct and/or resolve any conflicts?  This situation has not arisen as all issues are talked through.

Give up to 3 examples of where you have encountered operational difficulties (e.g. lack of resources); explain what mechanisms could be put in place to alleviate such issues:

1 -  Lack of communication with other departments.  Would like Planning to involve the LAF at an earlier stage. Will be writing to Planning Department to encourage them towards this end.

2 -  Lack of funding to run our Volunteer Training Day which we would like to be a bi-annual event.  This was not held this year due to budget cuts but will see if the LAF can fund it another year. 

3 -       

 

3 - Partnership and Progress

 

Do you work well with the access authority? If not, why not?  Yes, we work very well.

Do you work well with your planning authorities? If not, why not?  Yes, but we do need to be consulted at an earlier stage.

Have you established a clear role for the LAF in the local area?  Yes.

Were you successful in meeting the achievements set out in your work programme (please provide supporting information)?  Influenced PROW budget, extra 'project funding' now available.  Signed up and used huddle

Have you achieved something else?  Yes, discovered reasons for long term TRO's on riverside access and seeking a solution soon.

Main or notable achievements?  Helped to stop major development at Lodge Hill and saving (for now) the nightingales.

 

4 - Profile and Direction

 

Has anything changed over the last year?  Yes, better Councillor attendance and a new member has joined the LAF.

What changes / barriers can you see ahead?  Lack of funding.

What are your priorities for the year ahead (list up to 3)?

1 -  Push towards a continuous Riverside Path from Medway to Maidstone.

2 -  Get the Planning Department to consult the LAF at an early stage.

3 -  Campaign for funding for a second Volunteer Day.

What support or training do you need to deliver your priorities?  None.

 

5 - Section 94 Bodies

Give up to 3 examples of advice given by your LAF to section 94 bodies:

1 -  Condition of bridleways.

2 -  Halling Marsh.

3 -  Horsewash Lane.

 

6 - Open Access Work

 

How many Restriction Cases have you been consulted on?       

How many cases have you responded to?       

Detail any informal involvement with Open Access Restriction cases: 

Horsewash Lane

Grain footpaths.

 

7 - Number of consultations, meetings and initiatives your LAF has been involved with over the year (please add numbers into the boxes below)?

 

Public meetings

     

Working groups

4

Training days

2

Definitive map modification orders

     

Highway orders

     

Green Infrastructure strategies

3

Gating orders

6

Local transport plans and traffic management schemes

1

Cycle projects

1

Disabled access

0

Dog exclusion/on leads/fouling orders

1

Housing development schemes

2

Planning applications

     

PROW network and projects

     

ROWIP planning and objectives

     

Local development frameworks and planning strategies

1

Local Nature Partnerships

1

Recording of paths and promoting use

     

Expiring permissive agreements under Higher Level Stewardship schemes - assessing the value and future of and liaison with landowners to improve access

0

Flood defence works  - Environment Agency consultations and planning applications regarding

1

Slipways and landing stages - public access to

1

Improvement of access through the Paths for Communities (P4C) scheme

0

Disposal and development of land owned by the Council

1

Parish Council or local improvement grant schemes

1

Shoreline management plans

4

Rail freight interchange strategic development

1

Network rail and rail crossing closures

2

Access and nature conservation

2

Horse routes and equestrian provision

     

Multi user routes

     

National Parks

0

Coastal access

     

Motorised vehicle access

1

Access to MOD land

2

New town & village green registration government consultation

0

Natural England consultations

2

Defra consultations

0

Commons grazing proposals

1

Highways Agency consultations

0

Department for Transport consultations

0

Other (please specify):       

 

 

8 - Final comments from Appointing Authority:       

 

9 - Final comments from LAF Chair: 

Another busy year with restraints on funding. However, we have a lively, interested and hard working team here at Medway with our Officers and Councillors a real part of the team.

We continue to be challenged, but feel we do make a difference in protecting and promoting our open spaces and footpaths for present and future residents of Medway.

                                               Annual Report April 2014 to March 2015

 

 

Name of LAF

Medway

Name of LAF Chair

Rita Hunt

Name of LAF Secretary

Ann Pywell

Total number of LAF members 

9

Number of members representing users of public rights of way or access land

4

Number of members representing owners and occupiers of access land or land over which PROW subsist

1

Number of members representing other interests

4

1.  LAF achievements? (Please give examples to illustrate how your LAF has improved public access to land for the purpose of open air recreation and the enjoyment of the area)

Ropers Lane had been badly damaged by offroaders and with the use of a TRO and repairs to the surface has now been reopened for use.

Manhole covers on RS112 were causing problems for horse riders and other users and have now been covered.

2.  What are the main challenges affecting your LAF’s ability to deliver improvements to public access in the coming year?

Lack of funding as the PROW budget has been drastically reduced.

Statutory duties and improvements.

3.  What are your top three priorities for the year ahead?

Developments on Rochester Riverside

Maintenance of PROW and Public Open Spaces

Sharing responsiblilites within the LAF team.

4.  Is there any particular support or training that you need to deliver your priorities?

No, there is a vast depth of knowledge beween members to draw on.

 

LAF activity in 2014/15

 

Number of full LAF meetings held

4

Number of sub-group meetings held

4

Number of working groups led by others

0

Number of training days provided by the Appointing Authority

0

Partners the LAF worked with during 2014/15 (click on a box or type ‘x’)

Local Nature Partnerships

 

Local Enterprise Partnerships

 

Health and Wellbeing Boards

 

LEADER funding Local Action Groups

 

Please add numbers to the following differentiating between formal consultations and general advice given by the LAF on particular subjects. If a consultation covered more than one subject area, please count separately.

 

Consultations

Advice

Green Infrastructure strategies

     

     

Public Space Protection Orders (including gating orders)

     

     

Transport (LTP, traffic management, rail, DfT, Highways Agency)

1

     

Water / Coast (slipways, flood defence, EA, shoreline)

     

1

Public open space (protection orders, commons, village greens)

1

     

Dog exclusion/on leads/fouling orders

1

     

Planning applications

6

     

Housing development schemes

2

     

Local development frameworks and planning strategies

1

1

PROW creation, diversion or closure  - number of each

4

     

Right of Way Improvement Plan review

1

     

Route improvements (to PROW and other multi-user/cycling/horse-riding/walking routes)

2

     

Promotion of access, open air recreation and the enjoyment of the area

     

1

Definitive map and recording PROW

     

1

Parish Council or other  grant schemes

     

     

Disabled access / access for people with mobility issues?

     

     

Vehicular access and issues relating to motorised use of PROW

1

     

Nature conservation (including SSSIs)

1

     

Land use and planning matters (e.g. informal advice on land development)

1

     

Greenspace including Country Parks and Local Nature Reserves

     

     

Open Access land restrictions

1

     

Coastal Access/National Trails

     

1

NNR dedication

     

     

Agri-environment scheme issues (HLS and new Countryside Stewardship) e.g. expiring permissive access agreements, effects of land management options on public access etc.

2

     

Forestry and woodland

     

     

Any other LAF activity (please specify)

Working with Kent LAF.

 

5.  Summarise any feedback received from section 94(4) bodies[1]

     

 

6.  Please provide any comments from your Appointing Authority

Another successful year for the Medway Local Access Forum.  The Members are to be commended for their ongoing commitment to improving access in Medway and their perseverance in ensuring long term issues do not fall by the wayside and reach a successful conclusion.  They work well as a team and are not afraid to challenge.  Aware of their heavy workload, they are looking to allocate ongoing issues to specific people/groups in order to achieve a more intense focus and quicker resolution.  Their enthusiasm is relentless and they proactively seek upcoming issues to keep abreast of what is planned within the Medway area, actively questioning and offering their support where necessary.  They are dedicated individuals whose time and efforts are much appreciated.

7.  Comments from LAF Chair

I missed two meeting this year due to hip replacement, the LAF members carried on with the help of our Vice Chair. This showed the dedication of a strong membership and I would like to thank them all. We have made progress working with our planning department and feel valued as consultees. Highways and the PROW team are always supportive, share information and give praise for our efforts. In turn we have always supported their funding issues with letters to decision making officers. Overall, I feel we have a worthwhile, strong team here at Medway who make the difference.

8.  Any important information to bring to the attention of Natural England

Funding

Local nature reserves

Engage with the Director re budgets/funding

9.  Any other comments

Funding for LAF members going to regional meetings.  The member are volunteers and travel long distances and are not being given any refreshments at the meetings.



[1] The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000, Section 94(4) specifies that it is the function of a local access forum, as respects to the area for which it is established, to advise the appointing authority; the local highway authority; other bodies exercising functions under CROW Act Part 1 (Natural England, Forestry Commission and English Heritage) and such other bodies as may be prescribed. These other bodies are set out in the LAF Regulations 2007, paragraph 21, and include: any conservation board established by the Secretary of State, any parish or town council in the area covered by the LAF, and Sport England.

Annual Report 2011

 

Local Access Forum (LAF) Annual Report Proforma

 
 

*Reporting year

 2011

 

*Name of LAF

 Medway

 

*Name of LAF secretary

Ann Pywell

 

 

Review of Current reporting year

 

Were you successful in meeting the achievements set out in your Annual Report or LAF work programme? Please provide supporting information.

 
 

 

Yes.  Medway LAF had two objectives for 2011.  One was to get an article into the Medway Council magazine “Medway Matters” about responsible use of the countryside and the other improve communication.

 

An article is due to be published in early 2012 and there is now improved communications with the Planning Departments.

 

*How many Open Access Restriction cases have you been informed about/involved with?

 

 

Halling Common which has now gone to a Public Enquiry to be heard in January 2012.

 

Hilltop where the path was successfully closed to improve security at a primary school.

 

*Give up to three examples of advice given by your LAF to section 94 bodies:

 

Temporary Restriction Order at Cliffe Pools.

A new rubber crumb surface on the bridleway at RS56.

Grain Coastal Path.

 

Give up to three examples where you have encountered difficulties; explain what mechanisms could be put in place to alleviate this issue:

 

 

No difficulties have been encountered – there is a very good relationship with the Council.

 

The LAF are now on the Planning Department’s contact list.  The LAF are only involved with alleygating orders that affect proper footpaths and not those that just run behind houses.

 

Do you have any issues with recruitment of members from particular interest groups? Does this hinder your work in any way?

 

 

There is no-one from the 4x4 group but it doesn’t hinder the work as there are very few byways in the area. 

 

Medway LAF would prefer the appointed councillors to attend more frequently (at the moment it is a bit haphazard), and would like attendance from disabled or their carers, tourism and education.

 

Comments from appointing authority

 

Our LAF has been extremely busy this year, keeping abreast of planning issues, highlighting areas where they have concerns over the future use of open space (Horsewash Lane and Rede Common) and helping us achieve our aims in our Rights of Way Improvement Plan.  Schemes that were funded through the Local Transport Plan (LTP) have been fed through the LAF and our Members have visited the schemes on completion (and trialled them on horseback– RS56 at Spendiff) to provide us with feedback.  Our LAF was involved in the diversion of a section of the Saxon Shore Way, a long distance path and provided their support in the successful extinguishment of a footpath which dissected a school from its playing field.  Excellent partnership working has resulted in one of our Parish Council’s dedicating some new footpaths to us and we are fortunate enough to have local landowner representation that supported us in trialling out our new rubber crumb surface.

 

Our LAF wanted to promote the work they do, so we created a page on our website giving information about the LAF, with a link to their own website and have produced leaflets for public use, available in Council reception areas and local libraries.  We will continue to publicise our success stories in conjunction with work the LAF has been involved in and will support them and encourage new membership at every opportunity.

 

It will be a busy year ahead with a major development at Lodge Hill and we will continue to support the LAF in ensuring that newly created paths are multi-user paths where possible.  Whilst funding for our Improvement Plan has diminished, it is hoped that with the Volunteer Event that the LAF are organising, new members will come forward and help us achieve our aims identified in the Plan.  Our accessibility target for Rights of Way is 70% and a recent calculation on a random 10% sample shows our current actual figure to be 83%.  This has been achieved through annual inspections and improved use of footpaths where users are informing us of any issues.  We now have all of our Rights of Way data in a database and with support from the LAF, will continue to add to the information to provide a robust electronic monitoring system.

 

It has been a great year with our LAF going from strength to strength, focusing on issues that affect the area in which they live and we look forward to continuing to work with it’s members to be able to report on another successful year in 2012. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forward Look

What are your priorities for next year (list up to 3)

 

Conservancy Volunteers Day (arranged for 17 May 2012)

Improvement Plan

Lodge Hill – a major development

*What support/training will you need to be able to deliver these priorities?

 

The Conservancy Volunteers Day is being supported with funding from Highways and Greenspaces.

Do you perceive any barriers to delivering your priorities?

 

Not at the moment although there could be a problem with funding for the ROWIP in the current economic climate.

 

 

 

Any other comments

 

Medway LAF enjoy good attendance and are pleased to see local councillors when they are able to attend and hope to see them at future meetings.

ANNUAL REPORT 2010

Medway LAF has been very busy during 2010.

Medway Council has helped Medway LAF in many ways, specifically by publishing a leaflet  about the activities of Medway LAF which is now available in the Information Centre, online on the Medway Council website and on our own website – www.medwaylafs.webs.com.

We have made major strides with the Planning Department and look forward to being consulted at an earlier stage in the proceedings.  There are several major developments taking place in Medway at the moment and the Medway LAF are being included in the consultation process.

There is now regular Councillor attendance on the Forum which has already led to a much better relationship and has brought benefits by assisting with early application for 106 funds to refurbish and clear footpaths affected by new developments.

The Valley of Visions project has really taken off in Medway and work is nearly complete on the Strood and Cuxton Community Trails which are due to have official openings in the coming months.  Thank you to our PROW Officers who have been very helpful with information on the Community Trail.

Another success has been the lifting of a Temporary Restriction Order on access to Cliffe Ponds which had been in place for six years!

There has been great progress made in Halling with two Village Greens being registered and the transfer of ownership of the Common to the Parish Council from private ownership.

Medway Council has refurbished a bridleway using recycled tyres for the surface which has proved to be very popular – ticking several environmental boxes along the way!

Members of the Forum have also visited Medway Council’s Archives and spent a very interesting morning looking at many old maps showing footpaths that are still here today, although many have now been built around.

The membership of the Forum has increased with new members and others are already expressing an interest in the role and work of the Forum due to the publication of the Leaflet.

Interim Medway LAF Report 2010

MEDWAY LOCAL ACCESS FORUM

 

The Medway LAF has been very busy since our last update.

The leaflet we mentioned previously is due to be available online on the Medway Council website and on our own website – www.medwaylafs.webs.com.

Changes have been made to those Councillors who sit on the Forum and there has already been much better attendance and we look forward to a much better relationship.

We have made major strides with the Planning Department and look forward to being consulted
at an earlier stage in the proceedings.  There are several major developments taking place in Medway at the moment and the Medway LAF are being included in the consultation process.

The Valley of Visions project has really taken off in Medway and work is nearly complete on the Strood and Cuxton Community Trails which are due to have official openings in the coming months.  Thank you to our PROW Officers who have been very helpful with information on the Community Trail.

Medway Council has refurbished a bridleway using recycled tyres for the surface which has
proved to be very popular – ticking several environmental boxes along the way!

Members of the Forum have also visited Medway Council’s Archives and spent a very interesting morning looking at many old maps showing footpaths that are still here today, although many
have now been built around.

We welcome Cllr Michael Dale who represents St James of Grain Parish Council and replaces
Cllr Sylvia Edwards.  We would like to take this opportunity to thank Sylvia for her previous attendance and support.

Rita Hunt
Chair, Medway Local Access Forum

                                         Medway LAF Annual Reports       

ANNUAL REPORT 2009

It has been a successful year for the Medway Forum. We have received praise from our authority’s officers on the way we have conducted meetings of the Forum. We have challenged plans to alter or divert public rights of way, which we felt were unnecessary and have tried to influence over-development of public open space.

Proposals for a major new housing development on a former ministry of defence site caused local environment groups much concern. The Forum however, took part in the very early stages of the planning route and our objections and suggestions have been taken into account.  PROWs on this land, which were fragmented many years ago, are being studied to see if they can be re-connected and there is even a possibility of creating new paths if the development gets approval.

Several of our members have attended meetings at Natural England, which we have found to be very informative. They also inspired members to be more pro-active within our local Forum. In December, after a long wait, we welcomed our Secretary to the Forum and she is already proving to be a great asset. Minutes appear within a short space of time, with contacts between members and interested parties being maintained. This takes the pressure off the Chair and Vice-Chair who previously had to be ‘Jacks of all Trades’.

Although we do not have a lot of coastline we have, as advised, made sure coastal access has been on every agenda. We await confirmation that Medway will be part of the pilot scheme for Coastal Access and how its implementation will improve our coastline and estuary paths. The river Medway and its riverside access are high on our agenda and we have been part of the consultation on some development plans.

Membership remains stable with a couple of potential new members on the horizon. Medway continues to be supportive, especially our PROW officers who offer guidance, maps and information. Our representative from the highways department is very professional and makes sure we receive updates on the PROW improvement plan as well as answering all our queries at meetings. Our only problem is the non-attendance of local Councillors at our Forum meetings. Although we sent many invitations our appointed Forum Councillors did not attended any meetings in 2009.
At our December meeting, we were pleased to welcome Councillor Haydock who was standing in for someone else! I hope that attendance in 2010 will  improve.

In 2009 we set up a web site and although this is the early stages we hope to build on it in 2010. A leaflet, designed by members about the Forum has been endorsed by Medway Council and they have promised to print copies for circulation in the New Year.


Rita Hunt, Chair, Medway Local Access Forum.

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