I was honoured to be elected in September as Chair of the Peak District Local Access Forum (having been Vice Chair), to follow on from Edwina Edwards who did an excellent job for 7 years. Her leadership, knowledge, skills and commitment were acknowledged at the September meeting and her continued involvement with the Forum will prove to be invaluable.
I am delighted to be joined by two Vice Chairs to share the work in Charlotte Gilbert (a horse rider and land manager) and Bob Berzins (a fell runner) who both have good experience and excellent service on our LAF.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 included setting up Local Access Forums with this one being the first. We continue to work with quarterly meetings and the advice and support of two Sub Groups for Green Lanes and Access, and have a Joint Sub Group with the Derby and Derbyshire LAF reviewing the vital Derbyshire Rights of Way Improvement Plan. The approach to our work is to achieve consensus through understanding and working together on issues. We respond to consultations and provide advice on rights of way and access matters, and value the current efforts being made with partners to achieve increased accessibility by all to and within the Peak District, including the National Parks-wide initiative to pursue Miles without Stiles. Our advice and thoughts are offered as volunteers with a real love of the Peak District as strong supporters of the partnership approach which is crucial to successful working with other interests.
During 2017, we have had involvement in landscape partnerships across the National Park and initiatives for mountain biking, cycling and horse riding and are currently inputting to the National Park Management Plan Review, and its Partnership Delivery Plan. We have also been pleased to support opportunities for voluntary donations for access improvements via the Access Fund and Mend our Mountains and consider that there is a clear role for the Authority here without potential for conflict with other interests. The LAF, also, has an important role to play in identifying the need for improvements via its wish list.
Every year millions of visitors come in search of that special magic that can only be experienced in a National Park. Thank you for the tremendous work from the current and previous LAF volunteers whose time and dedication is very much appreciated and must not be underestimated, along with officers from the Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire County Council. In my first few months as Chair, I am enjoying working with very knowledgeable and committed colleagues. My thanks go to them all and, in particular the help and support we receive from Mike Rhodes, Sue Smith, Richard Pett and Gill Millward as officers for their hard work and guidance.
I hope that you will read the rest of the annual report with interest to understand the nature of the work that the Forum has undertaken over the last year and will take the opportunity to hear our discussions and advice at meetings which are now broadcast live.
Chair, Peak District Local Access Forum
Purpose of the Forum
The Peak District Local Access Forum (PDLAF) is a statutory body, appointed jointly by the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) and Derbyshire County Council (DCC). It covers the National Park and the countryside of north-west Derbyshire around Buxton, New Mills and Glossop.
The Forum advises on the improvement of public access for the purpose of open-air recreation and enjoyment and in so doing takes into account the needs of land management and conserving the natural beauty of the area.
Membership of the Forum
Membership of the Forum is reviewed regularly to ensure a reasonable balance between the number of members from land owning, recreation and local interests. Details of the current membership are included at the end of this report and at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/laf.
In 2017, Edwina stood down as Chair after seven years and was succeeded by John Thompson, the previous Vice Chair; Charlotte Gilbert and Bob Berzins agreed to share the duties of Vice-chair; Caitlin Bisknell, Laura D’Cruz, Caroline Hanson and Chris Page all left the Forum; and Jason Atkin, Joe Dalton, Geoff Nickolds and Dan Richmond-Watson joined.
Meetings of the Forum in 2017
Formal meetings of the Local Access Forum took place on the following dates:
- Thursday 9 March, Aldern House, Bakewell
- Thursday 15 June, Aldern House, Bakewell
- Thursday 21 September, Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw
- Thursday 7 December, Aldern House, Bakewell
The Forum also undertook site visits to look at the management of farming, conservation and access, a proposed Miles without Stiles route, and to the route at Wetton.
Issues discussed at the formal meetings included:
At each meeting of the Access sub-group, which met in January and April, the LAF considered access improvements and the funding for them via the Access Fund. The Forum was also updated on the Mend our Mountains fundraising campaign and expressed views on the Authority’s charity proposals. The Access Fund annual report was received at the December meeting
Miles without Stiles
The Forum have been following progress on the identification of accessible routes in the National Park and in September contributed to the development of route selection criteria. The Authority’s work on accessibility was reported at the end of 2017 in its annual report.
Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan
The County Council provided the LAF with regular updates on delivering Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan (RoWIP) with the Peak District and Derby and Derbyshire LAFs working together to progress its ten year review. During 2017 there has been continued emphasis on cycling through the continued expansion of the multi-user Greenway network; Pedal Peak II and the Pennine Bridleway National Trail. Workshops have also been held on unrecorded ways.
The Forum has responded to the following consultations:
- Derbyshire Cycling Plan – Key Cycle Network consultation
- National Park Management Plan
- Traffic Regulation Order at Wetton Hills
- Staffordshire Rights of Way Review
- PDNPA Transport Design Guide
Training and Liaison
The LAF has been represented by members at:
- National Park Management Plan (NPMP) monitoring and review
- Regional LAF Chair meetings
- Sheffield Moors Partnership and Eastern Moors Partnership
The Forum was updated on the making of two traffic regulation orders and consulted on a proposal for another. The Authority reported on actions for the year ahead and progress on voluntary restraint, with legal status and repair updates being provided by Derbyshire County Council. The Green Lanes sub-group met in February and July.
Other key matters discussed:
- Mountain-biking initiatives
- National Trails – Pennine Way and Pennine Bridleway
- Bus service in the Upper Derwent Valley
- National Park Authority resource and structural changes
- Moorland Owners’ Liaison
- Landscape Partnerships – Sheffield Lakeland, South-west Peak
The Year Ahead
- Identifying access improvements and supporting efforts to secure contributions to the Access Fund
- Involvement in landscape and other important partnerships and the protection and promotion of countryside assets
- Involvement in advising on completion of the National Park Management Plan Review and Implementation Plan
- Responding to the National Park Authority’s conclusions and any suggestions for a Park Wide charity and ongoing support to the Access Fund
- Contributing advice and suggestions regarding further development of “Miles without Stiles” and accessibility improvements with partners
- Input to the Mend our Mountains Appeal proposals including the Great Ridge and Cut Gate
- Reviewing and supporting Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan
- Developing green lanes as a resource and managing recreational motorised use
- Strategic support for Pennine Way and Pennine Bridleway National Trails including pursuing completion of the Pennine Bridleway around Glossop
- Mountain biking and future opportunities for the wider Peak District and Derbyshire
- Seeking further expansion and improvements to horse riding routes and opportunities, including Lost Ways
- Involvement in a Joint Working Group with the Derby and Derbyshire LAF for the ten year Review of Derbyshire’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan and its relationship with Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans, and hopefully other ROWIP Reviews covering our area
- Working with neighbouring Local Access Forums, Access and Highway Authorities on shared interests
- Further training in conjunction with Natural England and others
- Continue to raise the profile of the Local Access Forum among a wider audience
Dates of Meetings in 2018
- Thursday 15 March, Aldern House, Bakewell
- Thursday 14 June, Aldern House, Bakewell
- Thursday 20 September, Moorland Discovery Centre, Longshaw
- Thursday 6 December, Aldern House, Bakewell
Financial Statement 2017
Room hire, refreshments & lunches
The Peak District National Park Authority administers and provides secretariat for the Forum with financial support from Derbyshire County Council
Member attendance at the LAF meetings in 2017.
Details of the Forum are available at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/laf All Forum meetings are open to the public and, by prior arrangement, members of the public may ask to speak at the meetings. Meetings are at www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/lafmeetings and are available on audio webcast.
Mike Rhodes (Access and Rights of Way Manager, Peak District National Park Authority), email@example.com
Gill Millward (Countryside Access Improvement Officer, Derbyshire County Council), firstname.lastname@example.org