Agenda Item No. 2





Minutes of a meeting held on 10th April, 2013.


Present: Mr. F. Coleman (Chairman); Mr. H.S. McMillan, Mr. M. Parry, Mr. R. Pittard, Mr. R. Simpson, Mr. G. Thomas, Mr. R.L. Traherne and Councillor E. Williams.


Also present:  Mr. J. Wyatt, Ms. T. Cottnam, Mr. B. Guy, Ms. J.L. Pugh and Mrs. S. Thomas (VOGC).



(a)       Apologies for Absence – 


These were received from Mr. M. Dunn, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mr. J. J. Herbert, Mr. S. Lait, Ms. K. Lucas Ms. E. Nash and Mr. C. Short.


(b)       Minutes


AGREED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 12th December 2012 be accepted as a correct record subject to the correction of the typographical errors referred to on pages 1 and 2.  Members were informed that Mike Dunn had subsequently reminded the Chairman of his comments at that meeting in relation to item (f) – Wales Coast Path Update – regarding the potential for the Forum to be involved in identifying links and loops to the path.  Members were notified that this would occur as a matter of course.


(c)        Promoting Walking in the Rural Vale


Helen Blackmore, Senior Rural Regeneration Officer, explained that Creative Rural Communities (the Council-led rural regeneration partnership) had been requested to raise the profile of walking in the rural Vale and work with all relevant groups to develop proposals to that end.  The Steering Group subsequently established comprised representatives from the Ramblers and Valeways and the Vale’s independent tourism association which was known as the Vale Marketing Group amongst others.


The Steering Group had identified a number of issues and priorities for change as shown in the papers despatched in advance of the meeting.  The first stage of the project involved a thorough review of the existing walking offer and was now largely completed.  Focus groups were being developed to trial various elements and the next steps would involve their testing of the proposed key walking routes as selected, designing and developing a range of printed and digital resources to promote the walking offer and working with accommodation providers. 


Details as to how the project budget of £50k. was planned to be expended over the 12 month timescale for delivering the programme were shown at the end of the report despatched with the agenda.


Subsequent matters raised included the proposal that the marketing and means of communicating what the Vale had to offer should be through a new central resource in order that prospective visitors, as well as local residents, would be able to find the information required more easily than at present (given the various bodies involved and their individual websites).  She suggested that the Council’s own website could be used for that purpose with links to both local and national bodies.  Suggestions were also made that the Vale could be promoted by holding walking festivals, through the range of magazines specifically published for walkers and attracting television companies to produce walking programmes.  Discussion ensued on the type of walks that would be promoted through this initiative, Bob Guy indicating that the European funding for the same precluded routes being promoted outside the boundaries of the Vale (although users of the routes selected would be sign posted to linkages) and that it was partly, and importantly, for "economic development" purposes with the aim of promoting local businesses.  The Steering Group was looking at selecting a variety of routes to suit a variety of needs which would include having regard, for example, to the availability of public transport and would largely build upon the routes already developed by Valeways, etc.  Whilst the development / improvement of multi use paths also formed part of this initiative, Bob Guy indicated that there were other projects under the umbrella of Creative Rural Communities with more of a focus on cycling, horse riding and tourist related activities.


Following further discussion on the above and related matters, the Chairman thanked Ms. Blackmore for her most informative report and suggested that an update report be submitted to the Forum on completion of the project.


(d)       Public Path Orders – Update and Evidential Modification Order Tracking –


Members noted the details submitted in respect of the above.


(e)       Results of 2012/13 Footpath Survey


The results showed that the overall percentage for "paths that were signposted from the road" and "paths that were easy to use" had increased from that achieved in 2011/12.  The report also showed a breakdown of survey results over the last 5 years.  The outcome of the survey was being used to inform the maintenance programme.  Members noted that the new survey was already underway and that surveyors had already noted issues in relation to waymarking.  In response to a suggestion from the Chairman that surveyors meet to compare their findings, Sandra Thomas undertook to facilitate the same.


(f)         Maintenance Update


The statistics presented showed the number of issues logged since 12th December 2012, those issues resolved or part resolved and those which remained unresolved.  In response to a query, Bob Guy agreed to provide details as to the period covered in relation to the statistics on resolved and unresolved issues and to produce bar charts illustrating trends over the years for consideration at the next meeting.  Discussion then turned to the maintenance budget which, Bob Guy indicated, was relatively protected.  Members recognised the need, however, to prioritise expenditure on certain paths and Gwyn Teague would be requested to submit a report to the next meeting proposing revisions to the maintenance priorities.


(g)       ROWIP Update


The report before Members stated that the ROWIP funding programme for 2012/13 had been completed and informed them of some of the projects which had been undertaken.


Members were then notified of the reduced budget for ROWIP for 2013/14 and asked to submit any suggestions for the expenditure of the same either to the Chairman or to Bob Guy within the next month.  Officers would then analyse any proposals and bring a report on the matter to the next meeting.  A suggestion was made that it might be productive to look at ROWIP proposals in conjunction with the Coast Path.


(h)        Wales Coast Path: 2012-13 and Future Management


Trisha Cottnam took Members through the report, which outlined the headline work undertaken in the final quarter of 2012/13, focussing on the future CAIP Programme.  She indicated that Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government proposed that £1.5m. be ringfenced for the Coastal Path across the numerous Councils involved and referred to the funding priorities as set out in the report.  The deadline for the submission of proposals had been 31st March, 2013 and those submitted in outline by the Council were listed in the report.  Further brief details given in relation thereto included proposals for Barry Island, Barry Dock and Ogmore.  She confirmed that she was unaware at this juncture as to the allocation that would be awarded to the Council but indicated that CCW had been notified of the Council’s own priorities and quoted the Gileston scheme as being particularly desirable.


During the course of subsequent discussion, reference was made to the breach in the pebble bank at Porthkerry Country Park, to the fact that it was an undefended sea defence and that flooding would occur on the lower levels which could ultimately result in the current route of the coast path becoming untenable.  Bob Guy confirmed that part of the park to be historically a natural water meadow, commenting that the area currently drained more quickly than previously due to the new drainage system installed using the coastal access grant.  He stated that currently the situation was manageable and the path serviceable but that he would continue to monitor flooding incidents and address the matter when required.  Ms. Cottnam suggested that the position be monitored and that, if necessary, a bid for funding be made in a future financial year to address whatever issues might arise.  Reference was also made to ongoing issues in the Sully area which Gwyn Teague was currently looking into.  In conclusion, Rhodri Traherne referred to Welsh Guards walking the Coast Path from August to November 2013 and to their presence in the Vale in the first week of November.


Earlier in the presentation of her report, Ms. Cottnam had stated that she would be leaving her position with this Council in June, 2013.  On behalf of all Members of the Forum, the Chairman thanked her for her enthusiasm and contribution.


(i)         Update on Issues Raised at the LAF Chairs Meeting on 20th February, 2013


Rowland Pittard indicated that he had nothing to add to the report on the LAF Chairs meeting and that, indeed, things had moved on since that time.  He referred to the meeting of the NAFW which had taken place on 12th March where matters discussed included an update on progress on the Wales Coast Path development programme and funding streams, the Environment Bill and rights of way proposals, a report on the Open Access Map Review, and implications arising from the Active Travel Bill.


(j)         Glastir Maps


A paper from Max Grant (Ramblers Cymru) had been circulated with the agenda for the meeting in relation to Glastir Permissive Access in which LAFs

were requested to review their maps showing useful permissive access and send to Glastir officers by June.  The Chairman referred to the onus put upon LAFs in this respect and stated that, in order to be able to do so, the LAF first needed to know which farms had applied for Entry level.  The Chairman also enquired as to whether there any obvious areas in the Vale were permissive paths useful.  Following a brief discussion as to a constructive way forward, Bob Guy agreed to look into which farms in the Vale had applied for Entry level.  Members accepted that any resultant information would be used to feed into the process in 2014.


(j)         Draft Code of Conduct for Public Access Routes with Several Different User Groups – 


Members agreed to note the draft code of conduct which had been drawn up by Denis Murphy, a member of the LAF of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.


(k)        Review of Local Access Fora


Members agreed that, in the absence of more specific information from Natural Resources Wales, consideration of the above matter should be deferred to the next meeting.  Jeff Wyatt undertook to provide Members with copies of the LAF Guidance documents which had been produced in 2002.