What is the Local Access Forum?
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 placed a statutory duty on every highway and National Park authority to set up and maintain a Local Access Forum in its area. The Forum’s function is to advise the Local Authority, Natural Resources Wales and the Welsh Government on matters related to public access to land in the area.Members are appointed for three years (the current Forum’s term of office began in January 2015 and will end in December 2018). The County Council provides a Secretary to provide administrative assistance to the Forum.To identify potential members when a new Forum is to be appointed, the Secretary solicits expressions of interest from people living in the area through local advertisements and by requesting advice from user groups and relevant organisations. However members of the Forum are appointed in their own right, not as representatives of any organisation or user group.In appointing members to the Forum, the Council is required to ensure it includes:
- users of local access land and local rights of way
- owners and occupiers of access land and land with rights of way
- other interests especially relevant to the area
At present there are 15 members on the Flintshire Local Access Forum, including one member who is appointed to represent the County Council. Although Forum members are appointed by the County Council, the Forum is independent of the Council.
What does the Forum do?
It meets four times a year, with additional informal working group meetings as required to consider particular issues. The main meetings are open to the public. The minutes of previous meetings and date of the next meeting are to be found here.The Forum generally restricts itself to more strategic aspects affecting rights of way and related matters, because the County Council’s Rights of Way team has efficient procedures in place to deal with specific problems that you may encounter, such as a broken stile or blocked right of way (https://rightsofway.flintshire.gov.uk). The Agenda for most meetings will include items raised by the County Council (or occasionally by NRW or the Welsh Government), on which they seek the Forum’s advice, and also items initiated by the Forum itself. Officers of the Council attend the Forum’s meetings to provide updates on Council activities or professional information as required.
Examples of matters considered by the Forum in recent years include:
- The Rights of Way Improvement Plan (and monitoring progress in carrying it out)
- Defining criteria to decide priorities in the maintenance of public rights of way
- Defining performance indices to assess the state of the rights of way network
- Advice to the Welsh Government Glastir team on access-related matters
- Participation in the steering group to oversee the construction of the Flintshire section of the All Wales coastal footpath
- Provision for equestrian access and related safety issues
- Issues related to dogs and farming
- Provision of safe cycle routes, including the coastal path and other routes in the County
- Implementation wherever practicable of ‘least restrictive access’ principles See for example for less able users
- Flintshire Green Spaces strategy
- A selection of planning applications that may affect public rights of wayIn the coming months, it expects to consider
- Consultation on the Welsh Government’s Green paper on access
- Implementation of the Active Travel (Wales) Act requirements in Flintshire
- Review and update of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan
- Use of access to green spaces and the countryside for health and well being
How can you get involved?
You can attend Forum meetings and are also welcome to contact any of the Forum members (listed below) if you have some particular matter you wish to draw to our attention. If you are interested to be considered for appointment in the future, contact the Secretary or the Chair of the Forum (details below).
For further information please telephone the Forum Secretary Steve Bartley 01352 704622 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org