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Agenda Item No. 3

 

Cabinet - 14 March 2012

 

C1654                        VALE OF GLAMORGAN LOCAL ACCESS FORUM -

 

The following minutes of meetings of the Vale of Glamorgan Local Access Forum were submitted:

 

(i)         5.30 p.m.

 

Present: Mr. F. Coleman, Mr. M. Dunn, Councillor A.M. Ernest, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mr. J.J. Herbert, Ms. C. Lucas, Mr. H.S. McMillan, Ms. E. Nash, Mr. R. Pittard, Mr. C. Short, Mr. R. Simpson, Mr. G. Thomas and Mr. R. Traherne.

 

Mr. J. Wyatt (Chairman); Ms. T. Cottnam, Mr. B. Guy, Mr. G. Teague and Mrs. S. Thomas (VoGC).

 

 

(a)       Apologies for Absence -

 

These were received from Mr. S. Lait and Mr. M. Parry.

 

(b)       Welcome / Introduction from the Secretary -

 

Jeff Wyatt, as Secretary to the Forum, welcomed both the new and returning members to the first meeting of the newly appointed Forum.  He explained that the Forum was required to be appointed every three years, the first forum having been established in 2002.

 

(c)        Introduction by Members -

 

Following a brief introduction from the officers present, members of the Forum outlined their particular fields of interest and expertise, most having submitted a short synopsis for inclusion in the papers sent out prior to the meeting.

 

(d)       Rights of Way Team - Outline of Service Areas -

 

Gwyn Teague took members through his report which was structured under the following headings:

 

·         Background – the Public Rights of Way (PROW) network which comprised 498kms of footpaths, 27kms of bridleways and 27kms of restricted byways.  When asked for the definition of a restricted byway, he explained that users had the right of way over a restricted byway on foot, on horseback, on pedal cycle or any other non-mechanically propelled vehicle.

·         Maintenance – in addition to ensuring that the surfaces of public rights of way were kept in repair to a standard suitable for ordinary use, work was also undertaken to replace dilapidated structures on behalf of landowners.  In response to questions as to whether the Council could effect repairs on land where landownership was unknown, Mr. Teague indicated that the Council had general powers for maintenance if it was a matter of public safety but that, in the main, identifying landownership was not a major issue within the Vale.  Such work was frequently undertaken with volunteers and partner organisations, one such organisation previously being Valeways.

·         Enforcement – such duties included the removal of obstructions / hazards and / or taking action where certain types of unlawful activity had occurred.

·         Definitive Map and Statement – the existence and location of PROWs were legally recorded in the above documents which required continuous review.  The Council was also working towards republication of the Definitive Map.

·         Legal Orders – required to alter the PROW network.

·         Improvement – not a statutory duty but which attracted significant grant funding. Mr. Teague referred to, for example, funding received under the Rights of Way Improvement Programme (ROWIP), the Coastal Access Improvement Programme (CAIP) and the Rural Development Plan (RDP) Programme.

·         Information – Mr. Teague indicated that a great deal of time was spent in working with and supporting numerous stakeholders and promoting the network by various means.  Where possible the amount of information provided on the Council’s website would be expanded.

 

Mr. Teague confirmed that the Section currently comprised two permanent members of staff plus one vacancy together with, at present, three temporary members of staff funded through grant aid.

 

(e)       Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) - Background and Update -

 

The Vale of Glamorgan ROWIP had been published in November 2007, the vision for the Plan being “to provide, maintain and improve the network of PROWs and countryside access for everyone and to enable and encourage increasingly convenient and responsible use and enjoyment of the Vale's countryside and coast”.  Funding to implement the Plan had been allocated by the Welsh Government (WG) initially for three years until 2010/11 but had in fact been extended to a fourth year covering 2011/12.  The likely indication was that funding would be returned for the financial year 2012/13 of around £33k.  As indicated in the report, this year’s programme had included the funding of a post to quality assure map data.  The grant provided for:

 

-        working towards a republication of the Definitive Map

-        the recent addition of PROW data to the Council's website

-        matchfunding of Rural Development Plan schemes which had enabled substantial improvement works at Corntown and Cowbridge to be completed

-        training for specialist Countryside Access software used to analyse condition survey data previously captured (CAMS)

-        delivery of biodiversity element of the scheme, specifically the scheme in Leckwith Woods. 

 

In response to a question as to whether the use of CAMS would enable the public to notify the Council of issues in the countryside, Mr. Teague indicated that the services offered by Exegesis in that respect had not been explored but that it could be considered in the future.

 

(f)         Coastal Access Improvement Programme (CAIP) - Background and Update -

 

By way of background Trisha Cottnam explained that the CAIP was a scheme funded by the Welsh Government (WG) which had commenced in 2007 and would run through to 2013.  Particular emphasis within the programme was placed upon the provision of the all-Wales Coastal Path, the official opening of which was scheduled for 5th May 2012.  Members were urged to note that one of the three official openings would take place on Roald Dahl Plasse in Cardiff at 11:30 a.m. on 5th May.  She drew attention to the fact that good progress was being made on the section of the path going through the Vale, referring in particular to imminent improvement works at Cwm Mawr.  The CAIP was 75% funded by the WG through the Countryside Council for Wales (CCW), necessitating 25% match funding.  In 2011/12 funding to the value of £120.1k. had been received.

 

The report listed the works that had been recently accomplished within the Vale as being:

 

·         Porthkerry drainage

·         Gilestone - kissing gates

·         Cwm Nash to Dunraven

·         AtlanticCollege

·         Cwm Mawr.

 

Mr. Teague updated members by notifying them that in the current week dedication agreements had been undertaken with Dunraven Estates for approximately 7½kms of public footpaths and that another significant development was an anticipated imminent agreement in relation to land at St. Mary’s Well Bay which would result in a total of 8kms of footpath having been added in the current year.

 

In relation to a question, Mr. Teague responded that very little of the coastal path within the Vale would be “permissive” and referred to a part which currently fell under the Tir Gofal scheme and another area around Aberthaw where, whilst a formal agreement might prove difficult to achieve, the landowner was content with the current arrangements.  As regards funding to ensure the maintenance of the path, Mr. Teague indicated that discussions on the topic were ongoing.  When asked where the insurance liability lay, Mr. Teague explained that the Council as Highway Authority would likely carry the liability if surfaces were not adequately maintained unless it fell to the landowner (as it could, for example, in the case of structures).

(g)       Rural Development Plan (RDP) - Footpaths and Cycleways -

 

By way of background, Mr. Teague explained that the RDP would run until December 2013 with funding implications for both the PROW network and investment in cycle routes through the Rural Footpath Grant and the National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 88.  Further details pertaining to both were contained in the report as outlined below:

 

·         Rural Footpath Grant - designed to increase connectivity between villages and key locations in the rural Vale with PROWs.  Substantial improvement works costing approximately £43k.at Corntown and Cowbridge had already been undertaken, leaving a total of £107k. to be expended by December 2013.

·         NCN Route 88 - designed to extend the existing Route 88 through the investment in cycle routes identified by Sustrans, linking with the NCN route 4 at Margam Park and the start of NCN Route 8 in Cardiff Bay.  Work was already underway in relation to the construction of a shared footway/ cycleway on Porthkerry Road and also on a signage strategy.  In response to a question, Mr. Teague confirmed that the scheme being developed would combine both on and off road provision.  The point was then raised as to why this new provision should be dedicated for the sole use of pedestrians and cyclists thereby excluding horse riders, given the limited length of bridleways within the Vale, the option for both pedestrians and cyclists to use bridleways and, particularly, as equine tourism was being promoted within the Vale.  Mr. Guy stated that any changes would be required to conform to grant conditions and Councillor Ernest suggested that the LAF might need to look separately at the issue of bridleways.  Mr. Pittard then indicated that he was aware of the Welsh Government’s current pre-consultation exercise on a proposed Local Transport Act, during the course of which he understood that the above issues in relation to provision of horse riding routes had been raised.  He further suggested that it would be useful for the LAF to be involved when appropriate in that consultation process.

 

(h)       Procedure for Claiming Expenses -

 

In accordance with Regulation 11 of the Countryside Access (Local Access Forums) (Wales) Regulations 2001, the Appointing Authority was required to defray reasonable expenses incurred by Forum members in the discharge of its duties.  Previously the LAF had agreed that a rate of 40p per mile be paid to members claiming for travel expenses.  Expenses forms would be made available upon application to the Secretariat.  Members were asked to submit any claims within a maximum of 12 months of incurring the same and to consider receiving payment through the BACS method for the reasons set out in the report. 

 

AGREED - T H A T the payment of a mileage rate of 40p per mile be continued and that members individually notify the creditors team in writing with the required details. 

 

(i)         Procedure for Appointment of Chairman and Deputy Chairman -

 

The Secretary explained that the procedure to be followed for the appointment of the above was set out in Regulation 12 of the Countryside Access (Local Access Forums) (Wales) Regulations 2001.  Accordingly, the appointment of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman would be conducted by secret ballot as the first item of business at the second meeting of the Forum later that evening.

 

AGREED - T H A T nominations for, and the appointment of, the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Forum be dealt with as the first item of business at the next meeting.

 

 

 

(ii)        6.30 p.m.

 

Present: Mr. F. Coleman, Mr. M. Dunn, Councillor A.M. Ernest, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mr. J.J. Herbert, Ms. C. Lucas, Mr. H.S. McMillan, Ms. E. Nash, Mr. R. Pittard, Mr. C. Short, Mr. R. Simpson, Mr. G. Thomas and Mr. R. Traherne.

 

Mr. J. Wyatt (Chairman); Ms. T. Cottnam, Mr. B. Guy, Mr. G. Teague and Mrs. S. Thomas (VoGC).

 

(j)         Appointment of Chairman -

 

One nomination for the position of Chairman having been moved and seconded, it was

 

AGREED - T H A T Mr. Frank Coleman be appointed Chairman of the Vale of Glamorgan Local Access Forum to 21st February 2015 or such lesser period as the Forum might subsequently determine.

 

At this juncture, Mr. Coleman took the Chair.

 

(k)       Appointment of Deputy Chairman -

 

Two nominations for the position of Deputy Chairman were moved and seconded.  In accordance with Regulation 12 a secret ballot was therefore conducted.

 

AGREED - T H A T Mr. Michael Dunn be appointed Deputy Chairman for the Vale of Glamorgan Local Access Forum to 21st February 2015 or such lesser period as the Forum might subsequently determine.

 

(l)         Minutes -

 

AGREED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 16th November, 2011 be accepted as a correct record.

 

The following updates were provided to members:

 

(i)     Vale of Glamorgan Local Development Plan (LDP)

 

The consultation period in respect of the LDP had commenced on 20th February and would end on 2nd April, 2012.  Details were available on the Council’s website.  Following a brief discussion as to the optimum way the LAF should deal with that matter, it was

 

AGREED - T H A T members could respond individually if they wished but that, were significant issues to be identified, they should notify the Secretariat, following which further consideration would be given as to how to address those issues.

 

The Chairman submitted a response on behalf of the LAF based on the replies received.  A copy of that response is attached at Appendix A.

 

(ii)     Walking and Cycling Action Plan for Wales

 

Members were informed that a review would be undertaken of the same later in the year and that a report would be made to this LAF at the appropriate time.

 

Action: report to a subsequent meeting.

 

(iii)     PROW Condition Survey

 

 A paper was tabled showing the furniture breakdown across network by type and the issue type across network.  Members agreed that this should be used as a basis for a report to the next meeting together with ways in which to deal with other suggestions made at the meeting in respect of information to be included in those data bases. 

 

Action: report to the next meeting.

 

(iv)     Coastal Access Improvement Programme Update

 

Members were notified that certain dates within the minute as presented were incorrect.  No date(s) had, in fact, been identified for events within the Vale.  Mrs. Cottnam updated Members in respect of the Wales Coast Path website, indicating that it was intended to be fully in place by April, 2012.

 

(v)     Glas Tir

 

Action: report to a future meeting.

 

(vi)     Highways Bill

 

Action: LAF to participate in consultation.

 

 

(vii)     Countryside Code

 

A proposal was made that it might be useful to have a link to the Countryside Code on the Council’s website.

 

Action: further consideration to be given as to those links which could usefully be included in the Council’s website.

 

(vii)     Ogmore River

 

Members were notified that staff from the Heritage Coast were monitoring the situation.

 

(viii)    Valeways (considered under the title of Feedback from Forum Members)

 

In response to a question requesting clarification as to the current position of Valeways and its funding, Mr. Guy indicated that discussions were ongoing and consideration was currently being given to an application for funding.

 

(m)      Terms of Reference -

 

Members were asked to consider the current Terms of Reference as adopted by the previous Forum.  Those Terms of Reference had been based on the model contained within the advice and best practice published by CCW and the WG and had been revised over the years to reflect changing circumstances. 

 

AGREED - T H A T the Terms of Reference as set out in the report be adopted.

 

(m)      Appointment of Additional Member to Represent Disabled People -

 

The establishment of a LAF was governed by the Countryside Access (Local Access Forums) (Wales) Regulations 2001 in which it was stated that an Authority must have regard to the need to ensure so far as was reasonably practicable a fair balance of people. Since the expiry of the closing date for receipt of applications, an opportunity to address that imbalance as far as it applied to disabilities had arisen in that the Access Group Co-ordinator for Diverse Cymru (formerly Cardiff and the Vale Coalition for Disabled People) had indicated an interest in becoming a member. 

 

AGREED - T H A T the Access Group Co-ordinator for Diverse Cymru be invited to apply for membership of the LAF.

 

Action: application form and guidance notes for prospective members sent on 27th February 2012.  In response to the reminder sent on 2nd May, a request for another application form was received and Mr. Butterworth has indicated that he will attend the next meeting to observe the proceedings.

 

(n)       Proposed Timetable of Meetings 2012/13 -

 

Members were asked to consider a draft timetable of meetings for 2012/13 which proposed that the current practice of meetings commencing at 5.30 p.m., ideally lasting no more than two hours and being held on Wednesdays, be continued.

 

AGREED - T H A T, as proposed in the report, the current practice be continued and the following dates agreed:

 

     16th May, 2012

     12th September, 2012

     12th December, 2012

     10th April, 2013.

 

(o)       Synopsis taken from the Meeting Notes of the National Access Forum for Wales (NAFW) held on 10th November, 2011 -

 

The report provided a brief update as to the business transacted at the last meeting of the National Access Forum for Wales.  Any member requiring more detailed information was requested to apply to the Secretariat.

 

(p)       Single Environmental Body - Welsh Government Consultation -

 

Members were notified that the Welsh Government had decided to create a single body to bring together the Forestry Commission Wales, Countryside Council for Wales and the Environment Agency Wales.  It was expected that the new body would be first vested on 1st April 2013.  Consultation on the role and functions of the new body had commenced in February 2012 and would cease on 2nd May 2012.  Given that the consultation period would close before the next meeting of this LAF, the Chairman indicated that it might be appropriate to raise the issue at the next meeting of the LAF Chairs which would take place the following week.  Members were requested to forward any comments they might have at this juncture to the Secretariat for onward transmission to the Chairman.  If any member identified a significant concern, consideration could then be given to calling an extra meeting of the LAF. 

 

During the course of discussion, the Chairman referred to the good relationship enjoyed with CCW and his hope that the creation of a single body would not affect that relationship.  Mr. Dunn concluded that discussion by referring to two ongoing consultations entitled “Sustaining a Living Wales” (a consultation on managing natural resources in Wales) and “A Living Wales” (which contained reference to the creation of a single body).  Mr. Dunn indicated that the WG considered that both consultations should proceed simultaneously given the inter-linkage. 

 

Response to the “Sustaining a Living Wales” submitted by the Deputy Chairman on 30th April based on the replies received – copy attached at Appendix B.

 

Response to “Natural Resources Wales” (single body) submitted by the Deputy-Chairman on 30th April based on the replies received – copy attached at Appendix C.  Response to the same document sent by Jean Rosenfeld as the National Representative of LAFs in Wales attached at Appendix D.

 

(q)       Open Access Review -

 

Early notice had been received from the Countryside Council for Wales of an impending review of maps of open access to mountain, moor, heath, down land and registered common land in Wales which would start in mid July 2012.  A representative from CCW had offered to attend the meeting of the LAF scheduled for 16th May, 2012. 

 

During the course of discussion on the above, the view was expressed that since the draft maps would not be issued until mid July 2012, it might be more worthwhile to receive the presentation from CCW after that date.

 

AGREED - T H A T consideration of the offer for a presentation from CCW be deferred until such time as the draft maps had been published, following which, if deemed appropriate, the representative be invited to attend the meeting of the LAF in September 2012.

 

Action: having attended a meeting of the LAF Chairs subsequent to the LAF meeting, where the purpose of the presentation was fully discussed, the Chairman in consultation with officers agreed that an invitation should be extended to CCW to give a presentation at the meeting on 16th May 2012.

 

(r)     Concluding Remarks -

 

The Chairman notified members that the submission of items for discussion at future meetings at any time in the intervening period between meetings would be most welcome, subject to those items being of strategic importance.

 

 

- - - - - - - - - -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T the minutes be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

Having regard to the views expressed.

 

 

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