Until fortnight ago I was one of the many in England who would of put up their hand and said that did not know anything about Local Access Forums, so what happen to change this! I was sent the Annual Report of the Lake District Local Access Forum which I have posted the Chairman’s Summary up on the site’s news section, so after reading the report and looking on the forum website, I decided it was well worth going to one of their meetings which are open to members of the public, so I when to one which was held on the 21st July at the Hydro Hotel, Bowness on Windermere it was interest evening with presentation from Richard Fox of the Lake District National Park Authority on the Fix the Fells approach to landscape improvement and another presentation from Mike Clarke the director of the Lake District World Heritage Project on the possible implications for access of the project. It well worth making the journey up to Bowness from Lancaster just to listen to these presentations.
So why is so important for the Rough-Stuff Fellowship members to attend meetings of the 81 Local Access Forums in England which are statutorily prescribed independent bodies, introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The main job of these forum is to advise their appointing authority on improvements of public access to land in that area for the purposes of open air recreation and the enjoyment of the area, roughly this means for RSF members and other off-road cyclists they offer advise to their appointing authority on upgrading public rights of way so that we have more tracks to ride on!
Each Local Access Forum comprise appointed members who must be representative of both users of local rights of way or access land and owners and occupiers of access land or land encompassing local rights of way.
I n case of the Lake District Local Access Forum this make up of 20 appointed members (who are volunteers who don’t get pay to go these meetings) 7 members represent recreation use ie cycling, walking etc. 7 members represent land management ie tentants, landowners, commoners, etc. 5 members represent Special interest ie nature conseration, heritage, tourism, business etc.. 1 member represent the National Park Authority. The members usually serve for three years. There is a rolling programme of appointment, with up seven members appointed each year.
The main Local Access Forums which concern members of the Lancashire Group, South Lakes Group and North Peak & South Pennine Group are: Cumbria Local Access Forum, Lake District Local Access Forum, Yorkshire Dales Local Access Forum, Lancashire Local Access Forum, PeakDistrict Local Access Forum, Cheshire and Warrington Local Access Forum, North Yorkshire Local Access Forum, West Yorkshire Local Access Forum and Derby and Derbyshire Local Access Forum.
I think it would be good long term policy for the Rough-Stuff Fellowship to try get a to member serve on each above Local Access Forums and if you interested rights of ways issues there alot of useful imformation posted on these local access forums.