Committee Meeting Minutes April 25th

East Cheshire Ramblers Group Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 25th April 2019

1. Present

Jane Gay – Chair

Sue Munslow – Membership Secretary

Kathryn Carty

Maggie Swindells – Social and Events Secretary

Keith Anderson

Adrian Flinn – Secretary

Neil Collie (for item 1 only)

Apologies: Colin Finlayson (Treasurer) and

Dave Barraclough (Footpath Committee Chairman)

1. RA General Council 2019 held in Manchester on 13/14th April . Feedback was given by Neil Collie who attended this meeting on behalf of the Area since the Congleton Group (whose turn was to represent the 3 groups in


our area) were unable to attend (notes prepared by Neil are attached in Appendix 1). Key points relevant to ECR group were:

a) Priority to address the slow decline in membership. The Committee considered different ways that ECR can reach out and attract new members in our area. After considering several options (including publicity) it was agreed to explore links with other walkers (who may walk alone or in small groups) to explain the campaigning work of the Ramblers Association (RA) at a national level and the local work of ECR members inspecting and maintaining the local network of footpaths. This may encourage other walkers to join and support the RA. Action: All Committee members will attempt to make links with other walkers in our area and report back at the next meeting.

b) the work of our Footpath Committee will be explained in an article to be posted in our website for information to the wider membership/audience one of our key activity that benefits everyone walking in our patch


whether an RA member or not. Action: Neil Collie

The Committee thanked Neil .

2. Matters arising from last meeting
2.1 Walk Leaders Training: arranged to take

place on 4 July (full with a waiting list).

2.2 Rainow FP28 (Harrop Brook bridge):

ECR contribution was actioned and we are now awaiting notification from Cheshire East Council (Evan Pedley) as to when the installation will commence so that we can take photos for our own publicity (see also 1 (a) above)

2.3 Lost Ways: No progress to report. Action: Colin Finlayson to report at next meeting on current situation and progress.

2.4 RA membership fees: the proposed motion to RA General Council 2019 regarding the freezing of subscriptions which could potentially help to entice more walkers joining the RA was circulated for discussion with the other Cheshire East groups (see also 1(a) above). It gained some support but not


unanimous so it was not submitted to Central Office.

2.5 Frequently asked questions for new Walk Leaders: the Q&A is ready be posted in the website asap. (Post meeting note – the Q&A is available in the website now).

3. New Issues

3.1 Walk Register App: to be reviewed when version 2 of the App is released in the Autumn by RA.

3.2 Front cover to Ò6 monthÓ programme:

not an issue as most of the information that was proposed to be incorporated on a front page can be found in the website under the tab ÒAboutÓ.

4. Walks Programme

4.1 Routinely request a short report from Walk Coordinators on any significant points: this proposal was rejected by the Committee (put forward by Dave Barraclough) as it was felt the this would be an unnecessary burden placed on the Coordinators and, in any event, if a Coordinator needs to raise any issue can do so


by approaching a Committee member as they do now.

5. Reports from Officers
5. 1 Chair
Report in Appendix 2. Noted.

Several names of experienced Walk Leaders were put forward as they may be willing to help with the training course (see item 2.1 above).

The Social Secretary will be given access to the website for posting information. The Chair and Secretary have access already.

5.2 Treasurer

Report in Appendix 3. Noted

5.3 Membership

Report in Appendix 4. Noted.

The new member Welcome Letter has been updated with the latest feedback from the Committee. This letter contains useful information to access the available resources provided by ECR and RA in their website. It was agreed to attach this letter to the minutes so


that existing members have access to this very useful information as well (see Appendix 5)

5.4 Social & Events

Report in Appendix 6. Noted.

5.5 Footpaths

Report in Appendix 7. Noted.

5.6 Publicity

No report. The weekly walk reports are going into the Macclesfield Express on a regular basis.

6. Any other Business

6.1 Area Leadership Day – Crewe – Friday 26th April: this meeting was organized by the RA Northern Area Support Officer (Diane Simcoe) to give volunteers in the ECR and the other two groups in our area involved in Committee and other lead activities to meet area support staff and a Ramblers director and have an opportunity to network and learn about new staff and developments at Central Office. Unfortunately the Committee received notice of this meeting less than 24 hrs. of the date and no


one in the Committee could attend as they had other commitments. Unfortunately, in addition, the notice was not sent to all the relevant people in our Committee. Action: Jane Gay will contact Diane Simcoe to ensure that she has all the relevant names/contact details in our Committee and explain the lack of participants from ECR.

6.2 Countryside Access Forum: John Handley has resigned and we recognize his contribution and thank him for all the work he has done on ECR behalf. Morris Palin is still a member of this forum.

6.3 Safeguarding information : will be added as an item for the agenda of our next meeting. Action: Adrian Flinn and Maggie Swindells will provide background information before the next meeting

Date of next meeting

Monday 24th June 2019 at 1.30 pm at Chair house

Adrian Flinn – Secretary (29.4.2019) 7

APPENDIX 1 Reflections on General Council, Manchester 2019

A highly organised and slick event. The staff, Trustees and the volunteers for the event were all wearing the same T shirts emphasising the One -Team-Approach. All the staff and Trustees sat along the front row of the auditorium. Senior staff members were called upon in turn to give their part of the presentation supported by the Trustee who had been involved with that topic.

‘Van’ (Vanessa) Griffiths the new Chief Executive appointed 2 years ago, emphasised we are all One Team, no more divisions, but embracing change and moving forward together. We were reminded that we didn’t belong to a walking club but to a movement. The Ramblers organisation is aspiring to become the ‘Go-To’ place for walking. Central office is listening and new methods would be modified in light of feedback. Local successes need to be shared with the Trustees and Central Office (CO).

First priority was to address the slow decline in membership over the last 15 years and there was a promise to achieve membership growth ‘within 3 years’. We needed to be a welcoming organisation reaching out to new members, and recognising that the majority of members do not go on organised walks.

The new IT Director spoke lucidly about the ‘Digital and Data Transformation’ going on and spoke about her priority to make it easier for everyone, The vision included new phone apps that would enhance your walking experience. The ambition was to build a system as good as Trip Adviser that would advise you about the local area –even tell you which path to take to avoid a muddy section? 5 databases have been combined into one and the new digital dashboard is there to be used. Walk leaders would zapp members cards at the start of walks so that CO could collect all sorts of lovely data about what we were doing. This data is useful to justify support from funders. In answer to a question, the director said that if ‘someone really didn’t want to be zapped it would not be compulsory’. More on the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) later…

The finances are in good order. £3.9 million surplus this year. But legacies contributed £1.6m and are notoriously unreliable. £250,000 is earmarked annually for legal fees opposing footpath changes – is this sufficient?

I didn’t stay for the dinner, apparently there was a quiz all about Manchester…. and guess which table won…… Greater Manchester & High Peak Area!

On the second day, there was the election of three new Trustees. All the candidates were passionate about walking….all embraced change and most were experienced in change management and knew it was difficult……


Next was the consideration of the motions that had been put forward. Only seven this year including one to rename the Agenda Committee to be the Motions Review Committee. Did it need to be debated?……. Yes it did!
Next up was GDPR and a motion asking the Trustees to acknowledge that locally held databases were OK. Apparently not, and a Trustee threatened us with a one million euro (or was it ten million euro?) fine. CO have it in hand with a dashboard app where areas and groups will be able to access the information they need? No doubt our membership secretary has all this in hand.

Third was a motion asking for an increase in publicity for the work ‘we do in improving the quality of the Public Rights of Way and in campaigning for increased access’ We were told that two new posts have been created for two years: Local Advocacy Advisors, one in the south and one in the north, who would help with this. Fourth motion was asking for school packs to help recruit young people (and their parents) ‘who then stay with us for all their lives’.
Fifth motion was bemoaning the change of Policy by the Environment Agency (EA) towards maintenance of river banks where they impinge on rights of way. Apparently CO had been re-assured by the EA chief exec there was no change in policy with respect to river banks ‘on their land’. But most problems occurr not on EA land …….?
Sixth motion was on national planning guidance on green spaces and rights of way. Laudable stuff to press for strengthened guidance….
Seventh motion was an entertaining speaker on a motion to create a diverse and representative General Council (GC). She argued very persuasively that diverse organisations make better decisions and asked that Areas examine how they select there representatives to GC. Were there actual or perceived barriers that made participation by women more difficult? The Trustees to report back to 2020 GC which is to be held in Avon.
I can’t remember which motions were carried or defeated (except the first which, thankfully, was passed unanimously) but all the details of the motions and much more is on the Ramblers website.

Overall impression? For me it was exhausting (even without the evening dinner) but there is no doubt we are on the move and led by an impressive team – none of whom seemed to have been in post for more than one or possibly two years. Will the same team be there in five years time when it will be possible to assess the effectiveness of the changes which we are being asked to embrace? It was inspiring, almost evangelical at times. It is more than about led walks……. we are all One Team working together, and don’t forget the main message…. more members, more members, more members.

One final thought, are we missing out on conversations and consultations with CO as we have no area representatives? Are other areas better informed than we are? Maybe, just maybe, it is time to consider having an Area Chair – even if a ‘virtual’ one?

NSC 16.04.19



Well, itÕs been a busy time and IÕve done little walking!!

I have met with Maggie a couple of times re the Social SecretaryÕs role and feel very confident that she is going to do an excellent job.

I have attended a meeting at MelanieÕs house about walk leading for the Ilkly weekend away. I have attended the meal at the Gurkha restaurant in Macclesfield. I also attended the talk given by Duncan which was brilliantly supported and was MaggieÕs first event.

Cheshire East area volunteered to trial the national first aid training and we were selected. Eventually the date of the 20th of March was agreed. There were 11 places available in the morning and the same number in the afternoon. I advertised the course and had no problem filling our allotted 7 places. Eventually we had seven people who attended in the morning and three in the afternoon. We also have a waiting list of
2/3 people who would like to attend the next course we run. The course was excellent and I think everybody who went learnt something and came away feeling more confident about dealing with a serious emergency. This, I think, could become part of our annual program. John Kummer from North and Mid Cheshire wanted to send 2 participants so maybe we could turn to them if we were short of attendees.

I have met with Gillian Kay and Sue Munslow to organise the walk leader training. Much communication has gone on via email and we eventually have a program which is going to run on the 4th of July. I have two volunteers prepared to help at the moment. They are Michael Murphy and David Gylee. Frank and I are also prepared to help but we do need at least two more people so please rack your brainÔs and ask around amongst experienced leaders. I advertised the course on the 29th of March at about 5 pm and by the end of the evening I had 11 candidates with 6 reserves! Many of whom are new to me and hopefully also reasonably new to the Ramblers.

I have met with Roger on a couple of occasions to discuss the website. As a result of these meetings Frank is taking over circulating emails and I am posting information on the website. This is a short term solution and once we are both comfortable with the roles we will be looking for other people to take over. This must have happened by the time we go to Australia in September as the website does peculiar things due to the time difference!! Roger would like the committee to be able to post information onto the website. I feel that Maggie should certainly have access and anybody else who would like to. The more the merrier!

I will make it clear to members, if necessary, that information should not go out via the mid week coordinators as this causes confusion and results in some people receiving large number of emails about the same event.

It was brilliant that Neil Collie offered to attend conference, initially as an observer but when we realised that the area was not going to be represented he went as a delegate. He is attending our next meeting and I have circulated his report. Can I just say a massive massive thank you to Neil for attending.

We are still making a massive effort to ensure that everybody is carrying an ICE card. I think we probably need to circulate details of how to have your medical information on your phone.

I have been looking at the ramblers app for registering attendees at walks. I think one of the issues is that if the walk Is not on the national website then it doesnÕt appear on your phone. Perhaps a few of us could have a crack at this and see what we think.

I will handout a sheet at the meeting about contact numbers for Ramblers and also about grading walks. I think basically we are okay but maybe we need to re-circulate the information about our walks, the length and the grade perhaps need explaining on each 6 month program.

See you on Thursday Jane




Membership report. April Total membership is steady Jan 576
Feb 577
March 575
April. 575


Changes to ÔWelcome LetterÕ (already circulated) to encourage ICE details to be recorded on phone and 100 more ICE cards arrived to be given out by walk leaders.

Feedback already received ……also to include information on stroller walks and for new members to send emails addresses to walk leaders .


Dear updated welcome letter

The Ramblers Central Office has recently sent me details of your new membership and I welcome you to our East Cheshire group. I hope you will enjoy walking with us in the future.
We offer a full programme of walks throughout the year, both at weekends (mainly Saturdays) and during the week on Tuesdays, Wednesday, Thursdays and Friday strollers. Walks are categorised as long, medium, short and stroller. The majority take place in Cheshire, Derbyshire and the Peak District, with some in Staffordshire.

Details of the walks for the week ahead can be found on the front news and information page of the East Cheshire Ramblers website- . The walks are usually posted on the website from a week to a few days before they are due to take place. If bad weather is forecast it is advisable to check the website in case the walk has been cancelled or there is a new route and starting point. By clicking on the Full Programme above the Current Programme information and dates for weekend walks over the next six months will be displayed. Also, to be found on the website is information about the groupÕs social events, coach trips and walking weekends away.

Information about mid-week walks can be sent directly to your email address if you so require. If you would like to receive this information then please contact me on the walks you are interested in.

Long walks are 11 miles and over, but only very rarely go beyond 15 miles. Medium walks are between 8 and 10 miles, while short walks are between 4 and 7 miles, but usually averaging between 5 and 6.5 miles. All the walks are graded for their difficulty. These grades are easy, moderate, moderate/strenuous and, very occasionally, strenuous. An easy walk would be short in length with only minimal gradients. Moderate walks are of medium length involving some hill climbing. A moderate / strenuous walk would cover a longer distance combined with a number of steep ascents and descents.

Nearly every walk starts at 10am. We are disciplined at starting walks promptly at this time. It is necessary, therefore, to reach the starting point with enough time to park and


put your boots on before the walk departs. We would recommend at least 15 minutes is necessary to get kitted out before the walk starts.

When going on your first walks please make yourself known to the walk leader so that he or she can introduce you to the other people on the walk. Your health and safety are very important to us so we would strongly encourage you to carry an ICE card at the top of your rucksack. You may ask the walk leader if they have a spare one available for you or/and an ICE card can be downloaded from here. %20Leader%20toolkit/In%20Case%20of%20Emergency%20Card.pdf
As well as an ICE card an ICE app can be downloaded from google play onto an android phone. Information will appear on your locked screen.
On an Apple Phone the health app is on the phone when purchased. You just need to put your details into the app.

Please feel able to contact me if you have any queries about walking with our group and I will try to answer them.
I hope you will find us a welcoming, sociable group in which we all share an interest in exploring through walking our varied and beautiful area.

Yours sincerely

Sue Munslow
Membership Secretary – East Cheshire Group




Social Secretary Report

As this is my first report IÕd like to thank Jane for her time, help and support in my new role. IÕm still getting to grips with how everything works and her help has been invaluable. IÕve also had support from other members too and IÕd like to thank them for their emails, positive suggestions and support. In addition like to thank all the East Cheshire Ramblers who have kindly offered their time to organise events. Their willingness to do so provides us all with an interesting and diverse programme which is much appreciated and enjoyed by us all.

We held a very successful talk in February, given by Duncan Learmond, about the Macclesfield Canal, its history and how it is currently managed, maintained and improved through the work of the Macclesfield Canal Society. Fifty five members attended and from the surplus we took from ticket sales we made a donation to the Macclesfield Canal Society of £50. The remaining surplus will be used to support future activities over the next twelve months. The Ôlight supperÕ was enjoyed by all! The Stroller Walks programme, organised by Tony Walker began on the 12th April and from all accounts has got off to a very good start.

I am currently building up a list of possible speakers for future events which could include:

The Clink

Walking through our industrial heritage

Alderley Edge

TeggÕs Nose
The Salt Beneath our Feet

A talk about the restaurant run by female inmates of Styal Prison

A talk about the industrial heritage of the Whaley Bridge, an area we use a lot for ECR walks

A history of the National Trust site at Alderley Edge

A talk by the CE Ranger at TeggÕs Nose

A talk about of the history and current work of Cheshire Salt Mines

Any other ideas or suggestions would be warmly welcomed!
Since the last meeting additional events have been added to the programme which is attached below.
Maggie Swindells
22nd April 2019


East Cheshire Ramblers Social Calendar 2018-


Thanks to all those involved in organising these events. Any ideas for the next programme please contact me as soon as possible. Maggie Swindells 07729327940 /01625 829671



Friday 8th March

Talk by Duncan Learmond ÒCanals our watery footpathsÓ at Macclesfield Tennis Club


20th March

RA National First Aid Training

St JohnÕs Centre, High Street,




Friday 12Th April

Start of fortnightly StrollersÕ walking programme


Saturday/Sunday 13/14

April General Council in Manchester


26/28 April

Long Walkers Weekend away Thirsk. Organised by Colin Park


Thursday 2nd May

Start of evening walks organised by Steve Hull


Friday May 10th 2pm

Tour of the Air Raid Shelters, Stockport organised by Brian Griffiths


Saturday 8th June

Coach trip to Arnside area organised by Steve Hull


Thursday 20th June

Walk and meal in Monyash organised by Ann Thompson


15/16 June

Weekend away Ilkley organised by Melanie Davy


17th July

Visit to Blackden Trust


A six mile circular walk from Goostrey with 4/5 miles to

Blackden Trust and 1/2 miles back. Organised by Brian Griffiths


Saturday 29 June

Ramble with a Ranger organised by Jane Gay


4th July

Walk Leader Training (full with a waiting list)


2nd – 4th August

Long walkers weekend Kirby Stephen organised by Georgie and Peter Everson and Steve Hull
(may be an optional walk on the 2nd)


21st August

Visit to Blackden Trust organised by Colin Park


24th August

Visit to Blackden Trust organised by Colin Park


21st – 29th September


Saturday 28th September

Bollington Walking Festival


Coach trip to Conway organised by Annette Hurst, Gina Thompson and Maggie Swindells


18/20th October

Weekend away to Pickering organised by Ann Thompson


Saturday 23rd November

ECR AGM 2pm at Macclesfield Tennis Club
Please contact for more details


Saturday 14th December

Week End Christmas Lunch at The Windmill organised by Teresa Marshall preceded by a walk organised by Jane and Frank Gay.


Saturday 21st December

Christmas walk and meal organised by Georgie and Peter Everson




There have been two meetings of note since the last ECR Committee Meeting – one Footpath Committee Meeting and the other the bi annual Cheshire East ROW Consultative Committee. In addition, we had held an informal meeting with Roger Fielding to discuss ideas for the continued improvement of the Footpath Database.

One important part of the Footpath Committee meeting was to receive details from Tony Battilana of the plans for the 2019 Footpath Inspections by our team of Footpath Inspectors. This is now well established and the guidance to all Footpath Inspectors has now been circulated. We are fortunate to have a full complement of Inspectors, with a few new ones. A letter of thanks will be sent to Norman Ridley, who retired after many years as an Inspector.

Other business included routine items of footpath problems and PROW diversions etc. There has been no communication with the Project Group (Brian Richardson) but Nick Brearley is identifying some potential paths for a Ôvegetation clearanceÕ working party. One footpath (Alderley FP2) in the Alderley Edge National Trust is being considered.

Neil Collie and Dave Barraclough attended the ROW Consultative Committee at Crewe. This is chaired by a Councillor member of the ROW Committee and is attended by the various Ôinterest groupsÕ (walkers, riders, cyclists) across Cheshire East. Points of note included:-

1.            Funding has been obtained for improved access to the new A6 MARR road. ECR requested to have input to the details of this. 

2.            The contract for the repair of the Harrop Brook bridge is in progress. Work may start soon and we have requested to be notified in order to take photographs for publicity purposes. 

3.            We in formed the meeting of our new Stroller Walk programme. PROW is helping us to promote this via the East Cheshire Rangers, although this is proving rather bureaucratic. 

4.            We met the two PROW Enforcement Officers to discuss the details and progress on our list of ÔProblem PathsÕ. 

Dave Barraclough 21st April 2019