The report of the Secretary giving LAF members the opportunity to update the Forum on District Council liaison and other LAF representative project activity since the last meeting.
In addition to the information provided for the report, the Chair confirmed he had received no further information on the progression of the A66 works.
Rachel Connolly provided an update on the A1, confirming Highways England were hoping to offer alternatives in lieu of their failure to provide for NMU on the A1 project. Ian Kelly confirmed that a meeting with Highways England had been arranged to go through a scoping report they had produced detailing a number of proposed mitigations.
In regard to the A19, it was noted that Highways England wanted to close all of the reservations, and it was hoped that in that instance they would take steps to maintain connectivity for NMUs. It was suggested the Forum take a proactive approach with Highways England by writing to them asking what mitigations would be introduced
The role of district liaison was also discussed and it was suggested that a more uniform approached across all areas should be introduced. Rachel Connolly outlined how she engaged with a number of the District Councils, and suggested that as one size would not fit all, each liaison should come to an arrangement which worked best for them.
In regard to direct contact with the Countryside Access Team to discuss issues relating to specific districts, Ian Kelly suggested from a capacity perspective it would be difficult to support and sustain.
Finally, Rachel Connolly provided feedback she had sought from a representative from Natural England that confirmed that some form of review of a Rights of Way Improvement Plan should be undertaken during a 10-year period, in line with section 60 of the PRO Act.
Ian Kelly confirmed there was no plan in place to update NYCC’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan. He also confirmed that 45% of Local Authorities were in the same position. He noted that a light touch review would likely take place at the same time as Highways undertook a refresh of the Local Transport Plan, in approximately a year’s time, and agreed to consider how the Forum might help in that process at the appropriate time.
It was agreed that the current Plan was now very out of date and the landscape had changed significantly. Rachel Connolly suggested the Forum should look at the existing Plan in order to support and inform any future revisions, but following discussions it was agreed that the views of the Forum would be sought at the time that CAS undertook its review.
Will Scarlett suggested the Forum could undertake a review of the information on the Council’s website relating to ROW and walks etc and how the information provided could be enhanced. It was confirmed that it was unlikely that the Forum would be allowed additional pages on the website, but the content on the existing pages could be revised. Ian Kelly raised the issue of advertising walking routes on the website and the knock on effect that can have on the CAS team through greater footfall and more reports of accessibility problems. He proposed it might be better to signpost to other walking websites. It was suggested that a review of the webpages with proposals for improvements brought back to a future meeting, and Will Scarlett volunteered to undertake that review.
In terms of the number of Forum meetings in a year Janet Cochrane suggested it be increased to four, with perhaps two held remotely and two held in person. She also raised the issue of recruitment and the need for new members with specific skills. It was suggested that a rolling programme of recruitment might be a more useful way of identifying potential new members with the relevant skills and knowledge.
In response, the Democratic Services Manager confirmed that for the time being meetings would continue to be held remotely. He also questioned whether at this stage there was sufficient work to warrant a fourth formal meeting in the municipal year. Instead he suggested that through the use of sub-groups it would be possible to progress the work of the Forum without the need for an additional formal meeting.
Finally, he welcomed suggestions on alternatives routes to recruitment and it was agreed that the Chair would provide information on the working practices for recruitment by other local authorities.
Resolved – That:
i) The additional information provided at the meeting be noted, alongside the written updates provided in the report.
ii) A letter to Highways England in regard to the A19 be drafted by Rachel Connolly and circulated for comment to all Forum Members
iii) Will Scarlett to take on the role of District Liaison for Craven.
iv) Rachel Connolly to circulate a revised guidance note on how she works as a District Liaison
v) Will Scarlett undertake a review of the Council’s two webpages linked to ROW etc
vi) Information on recruitment from other Local Authorities to be provided by the Chair