ECR Committee Meeting Minutes 5th May 2020

MINUTES OF ECR ZOOM MEETING TUESDAY 5 MAY 2020

Start time 1.30 pm

ATTENDANCE

Dave Barraclough

Jane Gay

Kathryn Carty

Keith Anderson

Maggie Swindells

  1. APOLOGIES AND ATTENDANCE

The only absent committee member was Colin Finlayson.

  • MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING

The minutes of the last meeting held on February 3rd were approved.

  • MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
  •  Thanks were expressed to Neil Collie for information re the Donkey Bridge at Pott Shrigley.  The work is done and there is an article on the website.
  • Lost Ways – Keith Anderson is interested in doing some work on this and is waiting to hear from Colin Park.
  • The annual General Council, which Jane and Steve Butterfield were due to attend, was cancelled.  No cost was incurred by ECR.
  • WALKING PROGRAMME

Jane has emailed coordinators and suggested that as soon as we receive a recommencement date, they prepare the programme for the first month and then concentrate on the rest of the schedule.

Dave suggested simply bringing forward the unused element of the current programme (Jan to June) and send that out to leaders and simply amend if walk leaders are unable to lead on the revised allocated dates.  This was considered to be a good suggestion which would be put to the all coordinators.  Jane would email them after Sunday.

  • REPORTS FROM OFFICERS
  • CHAIR

Jane met Steve Butterfield re Area chair.  Diane Simcoe (Northern support officer for the Ramblers).  Jane mentioned ASSEMBLE a unified website all officers should be using. She had encountered some difficulties and Dave suggested all committee members try and log on or register and have a look how it works and familiarise themselves with it.  He will similarly ask the footpath committee.  He will forward the email from Wendy Halley.  Any thoughts on Assemble can be emailed to committee members.

  • Jane didn’t intend emailing ECR members about the present situation or restarting the programme until there was advice from Head Office. It was felt that there was clear advice on the Ramblers website.
  • TREASURER

Absent. Nothing to report.

Dave referred to an earlier email re relinquishing part of the budget and suggested in future all committee members be consulted. Jane, however, had been consulted and had agreed the course of action. Dave also wondered whether the treasurer could ask Ramblers if it is was their intention to extend the annual membership period to reflect the period of non-walking.  This was from the viewpoint of encouraging new members and retaining new members as the group was very aware of the competition from other walking groups and ECR membership not being seen as of comparable value for money. Other members of the committee said they were happy to pay the full subscription to support the Ramblers at this difficult time.

  • FOOTPATHS
  • One recent query related to footpaths being illegally closed.
  • The closure problem near Mottram is now resolved.
  • Dave has spoken with Nicola Swinnerton who is the new part-time Rights of Way Officer with Cheshire East.  The post is shared with Evan Pedley who was persuaded to remain in post, now part-time.  Nicola is very enthusiastic.  She has access to the Ramblers footpath database and is initiating actions to rectify things and she would like to be able to write onto the database.  It needs to be clear to the user that any of her entries are hers, and not those of Ramblers.  There needs to be some way to differentiate.  Nicola’s enthusiasm is very welcome but she seems to think that ECR can be allocated lots of maintenance tasks whilst we really should decide what tasks to undertake.
  • The footpath committee meeting has been cancelled though they may have a Zoom meeting at the end of May.
  • Some footpath inspections have continued where paths are near the inspectors’ homes.  Maggie wondered if we could swap areas to coincide with paths close to home.  Whilst a good practical idea, Inspectors like to keep to their same patch and this does provide continuity and they can keep abreast of what needed doing and what has been achieved. 
  • Someone is needed to coordinate the working projects team.  Nick Brierley hasn’t enough time for coordinating teams to work big projects and general maintenance.

A list of jobs can be extracted from a database but it needs prioritising.

  • Nicola Swinnerton is keen to involve ECR in helping with non-statutory footpath maintenance tasks. ECR is happy to be asked for help but we must make her aware that this must join the queue of the existing tasks generated from the ECR footpath inspections. Also, the maintenance capability is currently undergoing a period of transition in its management, so it cannot be an instantly available resource.
  • We need to ask for volunteers. Dave was sure that Brian Richardson had a spreadsheet which included some 15 volunteers.  He will draft an email and send it to Brian to see what he thinks about it.  Chris Munslow will provide a list of maintenance people he worked with.
  • In discussions with Nicola Swinnerton it transpired that Cheshire East Rights of Way has had its budget cut by 20%.  Dave thinks he could lobby the appropriate people in Cheshire East.  He has contacts with Craig Brown, the deputy leader of the Council.  We have been advised to address next year’s budget.  Dave wondered if the Area could get together and send a joint letter.  Dave will put some input into this and liaise with Jane who will get the other Area groups on board.
  • Whilst inspections may not all be done before the AGM, they will have been by the end of the year.
  • SOCIAL AND EVENTS SECRETARY

Virtually everything has been cancelled. 

The Settle coach trip for the 3rd weekend of June is unlikely to go ahead.  Maggie will speak to Ann Thompson, the organiser, after Sunday. 

The Patterdale weekend has not yet been cancelled.  The hotel has been shut during April and May.  If we cancel then we will lose deposits, therefore we are waiting for the hotel to cancel.

The footpath inspectors’ social gathering is postponed until maybe next year.

The long walkers’ weekend in August has not yet been cancelled.  This is the organiser’s decision subject to Head Office guidance.

Maggie will advise the coach company that the September coach trip is likely to be cancelled.

No decision has been made on Andy’s weekend away at the end of September.

Maggie will contact Judith re the Stockport history tour to advise it won’t be going ahead.

  • MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY

There are 546 current members.  Two new members had joined just before lockdown. Some members had joined in January and then cancelled their membership in April but there were no further facts at present.  A few people haven’t renewed their membership.  Dashboard, a Ramblers tool, is available to Sue to obtain membership information.

  • PUBLICITY

Colin Park hasn’t been asked for any updates during the lockdown.

  • AOB
  • Keith had a question about re-routing a path. Apparently you can go on Cheshire East’s interactive maps.  Maggie thinks this brilliant.  She will send the link.  There is a link from our website on the footpath tab.  If you go on the interactive tab you can use the snipping tool and highlight where you want to walk and print off the map.
  • Dave alerted people to information from HO Ramblers on lost ways (called Don’t lose the way).  He urged the committee to look on the Ramblers site and log on to get and sign up for progress updates.
  • Dave said that there was a facility to compare a current OS map with an historic map so that differenced which looked like lost ways could be highlighted.  Once a member had accessed a square and highlighted the differenced no-one else could access the same square which was a flaw in the system.  We wouldn’t want the situation to arise where HO would be pursuing a lost way without consultation with Ramblers group which covers that area.
  • ACTIONS TO BE TAKEN
  • All committee members to familiarise with Head Office’s ‘Don’t Lose the Way’ and sign up for progress updates.
  • Jane will ask Colin Park to contact Keith re Lost Ways.
  • Jane will email walk coordinators after Sunday with proposals re next walk schedule.
  • All committee members to familiarise themselves with ASSEMBLE by logging on and maybe registering.  Convey any thoughts to fellow committee members.
  • Colin to approach HO re possibly extending membership period.
  • Maggie to contact Ann Thompson after Sunday to discuss the feasibility of her coach trip.  Maggie also to advise coach company that September coach trip likely to be cancelled. Maggie to advise Judith that Stockport history tour won’t go ahead.
  • Footpath maintenance coordinator sought. Sue to get Chris’ list of footpath maintenance people.  Draft email to be drawn up by Dave and to be sent to Brian Richardson for his comments.
  • Area letter to be put together by Dave and Jane (Jane to approach other Area groups) to send to Cheshire East re next year’s Rights of Way budget following 20% cut this financial year.
  • Maggie to send link re interactive maps to committee members.
  1.   DATE OF NEXT MEETING

Tuesday 11 August, possibly via Zoom

The meeting closed at approximately 3.30pm

Ramblers East Cheshire Group Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on Saturday 23rd November 2019 at Macclesfield Tennis Club (subject to approval at the AGM 2020)

There were 40 members that signed the attendance register.  Welcome  The chair welcomed members to the AGM and thanked them for attending. 

1. Apologies for absence  The following members sent their apologies: Audrey Sheen, John Edwards, David Gylee, Dave Barraclough, Judith Anderson, Andy Davies, Alan Catherall and Michael Murphy.  

2. Minutes of the AGM held on 24tth November 2018 The minutes were accepted unanimously as a true and fair record of this meeting (proposed by Helen Richardson and seconded by Sue Munslow) 

3. Matters arising from the AGM held on 24th November 2018

To clarify the question asked regarding the insurance provided by the Ramblers. All ramblers are covered by what is known as liability insurance when on an ECR group walk. Further information can be found at the Ramblers website (www.ramblers.org.uk) where there is an Insurance Guide (Login in your Account and go to Home >Volunteer zone >Support & Development alphabetically sorted > volunteer toolkits > Insurance toolkit and download the latest Insurance Guide)

4. Annual Reports from Officers (posted in the website for reference) 

4.1 Chair 

During her address to the meeting the Chair highlighted:  a) Walk programme: this year the Stroller Walks have become very successful and well attended. However, the midweek and weekend walks have run with radical variations in the number of walkers. There has been much discussion about this at the Committee and amongst the members. In the light of the statistical data gathered in 2019 so far the Committee decided to leave the programme unchanged as there was a diversity of opinions that no clear way forward has evolved.

 All the volunteers were thanked for their contribution to this amazing and varied programme of walks. The Walk Coordinators are always looking for new volunteers to lead walks (see (d) below). b) The work carried out by the Footpath Committee was highlighted and thanked for the work they do. c) There has been a change in the responsibility for posting information in the ECR Website (Maggie Swindells) and for circulating communications as bulk emails to the membership (Steve Hull). The Committee are looking for volunteers with Facebook, WhatsApp and/or Instagram knowledge so that we can make use of these media in our means of communication to help to attract younger members. d) Several social and training events were organized during 2019. The walk Leader introductory course run in July was a success and the Committee may run another course in 2020 and depending on demand will run them annually. e) The Committee are looking to co-opt two volunteers to join. f) Finally, everyone who have volunteered and contributed to make a success of ECR were acknowledged and appreciated very much. There were no questions from the floor.

4.2 Treasurer 

Key points made during the address were:  a) A surplus of £1082.47 with our bank balance standing at £5882.48 which is up on last year figure of £4801. ECR remains in a robust financial position and has sufficient provision available to invest in footpath improvement schemes once they have been identified. b) Our funding for the year from Ramblers was £1200 (up from £800 requested last year) c) Our self-funded activities generated a surplus of £63 d) ECR received £610 in commissions from Ramblers Holidays which is a sizeable increase from previous years. Donations totalling £200 were made to our local Mountain Rescue Teams (Kinder, Buxton, Glossop and Oldham). ECR also donated £500 to Cheshire East Council to help fund the repair of Harrop Bridge. e) The vast majority of members are now using internet payments. A question from a member was asked relating to expenses incurred by walk leaders at weekend away events (ie. Recce charges). A rough framework was discussed at the last Committee meeting in November and details will be finalized at the next Committee meeting due in February 2020.

4.3 Membership Secretary 

The following members that had passed away in the past year were remembered with a minute silence: Derek Thornley, Nora Shercliff and Gabriel Drew.

 Since the last AGM our membership numbers have gone down from 593 to 566 in line with national figures. Our group are actively trying to recruit new members by leaving publicity leaflets in local leisure centres, medical centres and libraries. Central Office have started a campaign to keep new members by providing guidance to the local groups in the country (see report in the website for details).  The need for members to keep their personal details up to date was emphasised to ensure that the ECR group members list which is issued monthly by Central Office is up to date – changers can only be done by the individual login into his/her Account in the Ramblers website. It is important to update any change in an email address immediately so that the change appears in the monthly membership list as the list is used to update the bulk email service (used to send ECR communications to our members) on a monthly basis. There were no questions from the floor.

4.4 Social & Events Secretary 

A full and varied programme of events was provided to our members, which were well supported. Our social programme depends so much on the generosity of members who are prepared to give up their time to provide events for all of us and they were thanked on behalf of all the membership for their time, enthusiasm,             imagination and continued support. We are looking for volunteers to run a Weekend Away in 2020. There were no questions from the floor. 

4.5 Footpath Committee Chairman

 In the absence of Dave Barraclough, Neil Collie stood in his place to answer any questions arising from the report (posted in the website for reference). This year has been an active but fairly routine year for the Footpath Committee activities. The significant work done by Colin Park in the listing of potential Lost Ways across Cheshire was acknowledged as he is now standing down from managing this project on behalf of ECR. There were no questions from the floor.

4.6 Publicity Officer

This year has seen walk articles appearing in the Macclesfield Express on all but one week. Walk articles from anyone leading walks are welcome, especially if it is a new or unfamiliar area (instructions on the format of an article are given in the report posted in the website). In addition, walk articles are now posted in our website for those members that do not have access to the newspaper. There were no questions from the floor.  

5. Other Reports 

5.1 Footpath Maintenance Projects Team (coordinated by Brian Richardson)

The Team has carried out one project during this year – a major path re-instatement on National Trust land in Alderley Edge. The Coordinator hopes to engage the Team in several tasks in 2020.  There were no questions from the floor. 5.2 ECR Walk Statistics (posted in the website for reference)   In the light of the statistical analysis available for 2019 the Committee have decided to leave our extensive and varied Walk Programme format unchanged – see 4.1 (a) above. The work done by Ralph Atherton and Andy Davies was acknowledged and appreciated. Ralph will not be involved in the collection and data crunching anymore and this task will be done by Andy from now on.

6. Election of Officers and Committee

The following stood for re-election and were elected unopposed in block by a show of hands: Jane Gay (Chair), Colin Finlayson (Treasurer), Sue Munslow (Membership Secretary), Maggie Swindells (Social & Events Secretary), Dave Barraclough (Footpath Committee representative), Colin Park (Publicity Officer) and Keith Anderson (Committee Member). Kathryn Carty put forward her name for election to the vacant position of Secretary (duly proposed and seconded). There were no other nominations received by the cut-off date so Kathryn was unanimously elected by a show of hands. The Committee are seeking to co-opt two additional volunteers to join.  In addition, there is a vacancy for a volunteer to take on the management of the Lost Ways project. The Chair thanked the outgoing Secretary for the work done during the last 3 years.

7. Appointment of Independent Examiner (Auditor of Accounts)

Ken Hobbs was reappointed unanimously by a show of hands.

8. Motions None

9. Any other Business None

The meeting closed at 3 pm. 

Adrian Flinn – ECR Committee Secretary 9th December 2019 

Dates of meetings to be held in 2020 (venues to be confirmed in late summer):

ECR 2020 AGM – date to be confirmed

The Area 2020 AGM –      date to be confirmed