East Cheshire Ramblers Group Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 2 September 2019

East Cheshire Ramblers Group Minutes of the Committee meeting held on 2 September  2019

1. Present

Jane Gay – Chair

Dave Barraclough – Footpath Committee Chairman

Sue Munslow – Membership Secretary

Kathryn Carty

Maggie Swindells – Social and Events Secretary

Adrian Flinn – Secretary

Apologies: 
 Colin Finlayson and Keith Anderson

2. Matters arising from last meeting

All outstanding issues have been completed except:

2.1 The “value for the cost of the subscription”. Not raised with Central Office yet. Action: Colin Finlayson to report at next meeting

2.2 Sharing Car usage. Central Office contacted with the proposal and await a response. Action: Jane Gay will report to Committee

3. New Issues

3.1 Safeguarding information (children and vulnerable adults): The guidance for walk leaders available in the RA website was discussed and noted as we need to be familiar with this guidance and ensure that it is implemented in the walks organized by ECR if there are young people under 18 and/or vulnerable adults in a walk. The existence/access of the guidance documents will be incorporated in the “Frequently asked questions” posted in our website. Action: Maggie Swindells will amend the FAQ’s document.

Also Walk Coordinators will be informed about the existence of the guidance and how to access the information in the RA website and to let their Walk Leaders know as well so that they can become familiar with the guidance in the rare occasion that it may apply during a walk. Action: Jane Gay

4. Walks Programme

4.1 Walk grade descriptions (given in our ECR website under “About” tab). After some discussion it was agreed to update the definitions to bring them in line with current practice. The Stroller walks description is required as well. The new descriptions will be:

Length:

  • Short: 5-7 miles (approx.)
  • Medium: 7-10 miles (approx.)
  • Long: 11+ miles

Terrain:

  • Easy: Walks on paths which are reasonably level with an easy pace. No great ascents or descents
  • Moderate: Walks on paths that involve rougher ground and there are some ascents and height gained
  • Strenuous: Walks on rough ground with possible strenuous climbs and/or descents with a faster pace

Stroller Walks

3- 4 miles on even ground with very limited ascents or descents and very few stiles

Action: (1) Maggie Swindells will add the revised descriptions in the FAQ’s document that is posted in our website. Also, in this document Walk Leaders will be encouraged to put a description of the terrain and ascents in feet that are likely to be encountered in their walk. (2) Jane Gay will ask the webmaster to amend the current descriptions to reflect the agreed changes and include Stroller Walks

4.2 Midweek Medium Walks. Further discussions took place in the light of new/latest statistical data provided by the Walk Coordinator regarding attendance on these walks that we offer twice weekly to our membership.  The Committee agreed that we should consider this issue again in the light of the figures for the whole of this year and in the meantime the frequency of these walks remain as they are. It was noted that volunteers offering to lead these medium midweek walks are not coming forward and there are some gaps in the 2nd half of this year programme. Action: Jane Gay will ask the Walk Coordinator to record as part of the statistical analysis the number of cancelled walks because of lack of leaders during 2019

5. Reports from Officers

5. 1 Chair

Noted. The Walk Leaders training course (basic) will be repeated next year (date to be decided) to encourage new volunteers to come forward. See Appendix 1

5.2 Treasurer

Noted. See Appendix 2

5.3 Membership

Noted. See Appendix 3

5.4 Social & Events

Noted. The Social Programme draft for the 1H 2020 was circulated for information. See Appendix 4

5.5 Footpaths

Noted. Two items raised were discussed under 7 below. See Appendix 5

5.6 Publicity

An article is being put in the Macclesfield Express each week. No update on Lost Paths project. The Committee would like to have the articles published in the Macc Express posted in our website regularly on a weekly basis.  Action: Adrian Flinn will contact Colin Park.

6. Any other Business

6.1 Continuity of future Footpath Maintenance project work. The Committee agreed that continuity of this essential work was essential and provided a valuable service to our membership and wider walking public, in particular, the vegetation clearance of the footpaths in our patch. Action: Jane Gay will contact the Footpath Maintenance Project Coordinator to discuss some of the ideas  which came out of the Committee discussion and to ascertain the Coordinator views as to how we can achieve this aim

6.2 Newspaper articles on (a) Lost Ways and (b) Cycling on footpaths (background is given in Appendix 5). It was agreed that in (a) we should seek what progress as been achieved so far by Central Office. Action: Dave Barraclough will contact Jack Cornish who is the manager of this project at RA. Item (b) was noted and no action is necessary.

Date of next meeting

Monday 11th November 2019 at 1.30 pm at Chair house. The agenda for this meeting will be mainly to discuss/finalise the arrangements of the AGM

Adrian Flinn – Secretary (9.9.2019)

APPENDIX 1



The walk leaders training course on the 4th of July was excellent and fully subscribed. We had six experienced leaders including our leader Gillian Kay who had done all of the planning and had met with us so we knew exactly what we were doing on the day. It seemed to go very well and was much appreciated. in the end all on the waiting list of 10 were offered places. Several people were unable to attend, the  2 main reasons being work commitments and the decision that the course was not the right one for them. We had emphasised the fact that it was a beginners course and several people decided that their map reading skills were better than those we were teaching on the course. We should discuss what we want to do next year. If the aim is to get people leading walks who are unsure about map reading,  then, I think the course was perfect. We could perhaps follow it up with some information about GPS and apps.

On Saturday 16th May 2020 I’ve agreed the all 3 walks will start from or near Macclesfield. See below. I’ve told weekend coordinators.

I am contacting you with an idea to help promote physical activity and the opportunities offered by the outdoors to residents of Macclesfield.

On Saturday 16th May 2020, the second Macclesfield Bikeathon will take place. We have an idea to build an even bigger event around this. With different events going on, on the same day to promote a wide range of outdoor activities for all.

I will be approaching many groups across the town associated with physical activity.

Would East Cheshire Ramblers be interested in organising a special event on the day? The detail can be ironed out closer to the time but I was thinking of a guided walk or something like that?

Please let me know your thoughts and if this is something that you would like to do, we will organise a meeting in September. 

With best wishes
Helena

I was talking to Martin Dunkley the other day and he was showing me the Facebook and WhatsApp that they use with his Spanish walking group. Facebook and ECR do not seem to be in any way active. I have spoken to Andy Davies, who I think set up the original Facebook link and also Roger but neither of them seem to know anything about how to create a more active Facebook and WhatsApp link which would only be available to members. I’m wondering if anybody on the committee has any working knowledge of either of these things.

I sent David Gylee the statistics which I circulated to you all.  Below is his response which I think we need to discuss. Maybe he will put a motion to the AGM

Jane,

Funnily enough I went with Andy Davies for a curry recce on Friday evening at Bengal Tiger Lily and we had a chat about walk numbers amongst other things. I asked him to let me have the numbers for 2019, so he sent me the latest figures.

There is a very clear trend from these figures from Ralph taken together with the 2019 figures to date.

As the group ages, as we most certainly are doing, the trend is towards Short walks, these are becoming the most popular by far.

I was particularly interested in Medium walks for 2019, and can clearly see that the mean average is falling from previous years. So, Tuesday and Wednesday Medium walks average at 9 each, Thursday averages at 8. There are some very low statistics, 1, 2, 3, 4 all occur and some on more than one occasion.

Also noticeable is that when there is a high number – 19 was the highest, then this is usually balanced by a low number on the alternative Medium walk day. So, weather may be a factor, or the walk leader may be a factor, or the start point, but it looks clear that medium walkers decide to go on a certain day, and then ignore the other day in that week.

Added together, the average works out at 17, an easily manageable number for one walk leader.

I would suggest that we go back to one Medium walk per week, alternating between Wednesday and Thursday, with the Long walk alternating between Tuesday and Wednesday. So, for example one week would have Long walk on Tuesday, Medium walk Wednesday, next week Long walk on Wednesday, Medium walk on Thursday.   On the other hand, short walks average out in 2019 for 21 on Tuesdays, and 19 on Wednesday, so could be split into two midweek walks, although organisation and a shortage of walk leaders may prove to be difficult to overcome.

What I personally think would be a very good solution, would be to have Long, Medium, and Short walks on different days each week, but then rotating on those days over a 3 week cycle.

Thus:-

Week 1

Tuesday – Long

Wednesday – Medium

Thursday – Short

Week 2

Tuesday – Short

Wednesday – Long

Thursday – Medium


Week 3

Tuesday – Medium

Wednesday – Short

Thursday – Long


but is probably far too radical for the members!! David

I will attempt to get this year’s medium walk numbers from Andy and share those with you as well as ask his opinion on the situation.


Frank and I Attended David Derek Thornley’s funeral and it was great to see so many of the long serving members there. The Ramblers must’ve been represented by at least 30 people so that was good. His family were lovely and have given me some maps and booklets to see if anybody wants them. I’ll share these at the meeting and then take them to the AGM

Re AGM I have a homemade cake already promised from Ruth Harrison!! 

Jane Gay

APPENDIX 2

Brief report as follows :

Bank balance at 26/8/2019 – £6068

Bank Charges to date -£5.70

2019/2020 Budget – This was submitted on 26th July to RA requesting £1600 funding for ECR .We will be notified in late September if our request has been accepted.

Annual Return 2019 :

Annual Year End accounts package has been issued with a return date deadline of 21st October .

Colin Finlayson

APPENDIX 3

August 2019 Membership Report 

ECR Membership Numbers

576    Jan

577    Feb

575    March

575    April

574    May 

562     June

557     July

558     August 

Numbers of new members joining each month always fluctuate slightly but averaging about 3 at present compared with about 4 last year. 

Early summer indicated a drop in membership .  Looking at those three months  from 22 not renewing…..

1/3    did not renew after a year

1/3    not renewing had been members from 2 to 10 years. 

This trend is shown nationally …there are many reasons

1.  people retiring later

2. more people may be walking but there are a large number of other groups where membership may be free.   For example the growth of AIR and U3A groups.  Congleton U3A has at least 4 groups representing 100 – 200 walkers.  

ACTION…..all new members trying out walks should be welcomed by all.  Membership secretory to order more leaflets for places such as the Macclesfield  Medical Centre. 

Recent email received….

Membership recruitment – please note the new booklet, adverts, joining process and staff 

We want members to feel part of our Ramblers community from the moment they join us. In addition to the friendly welcome they’ll receive locally, we’ve created a welcome booklet, which, from early October, will be sent to new members soon after they join, alongside their welcome letter and membership card. The booklet will help them understand how to make the most of their membership: introducing the range of benefits that they can enjoy and reminding them of ways to get involved with their local groups, volunteer and campaign with us. 

This Summer we’ve been trialling new Facebook adverts to help us recruit more of Britain’s walkers into our membership. We’ve been testing different messages to see which have most appeal. Encouragingly, the adverts trialled to date have been successful, especially the one which promotes our taster walks: where a non-member can try out up to three walks for free before joining the Ramblers.

We have also been making improvements to our joining process. With more than 85% of new members joining online, we want to make sure that this process is as easy as possible. From mid-September, we will be making some significant improvements to the online join process, including sending a follow-up email to anyone who doesn’t complete the whole process, asking for feedback and giving details on how to contact us if they’ve been having problems joining online.

And we know you will join us in welcoming Nicky Teegan this month as our new membership acquisition officer – a vital new role as we collectively aspire to grow our membership community. Nicky joins us from Cyclehoop and is looking forward to working with you to support your membership recruitment initiatives across Great Britain.  We will continue to keep you informed of progress. Please send any feedback to our head of membership nicola.fickling@ramblers.org.uk.

Sue Munslow

APPENDIX 4

Social Secretary’s Report 2nd September 2019

Thanks go to all our fellow ramblers who continue to co-ordinate walks, lead walks and provide social events for our group. Their continued support and enthusiasm ensures that we have a varied and interesting programme which we can all access and enjoy. 

Three visits to the Blackden Trust home of the author Alan Garner and his family, and organised by Brian Griffith and Colin Park, were a real treat. The visits, which were all very well attended, offered those who went a real insight into the author’s passion about local history and what life was like for his children growing up in a Tudor house with no amenities!  Thanks to Brian and Colin for all their hard work in organising the events.

Rodney Hughes led his Wincle History walk from the Ship Inn at Wincle on the 2nd August. Fifteen walkers attended and the feedback was very positive. Those who attended suggested that more history walks would be a good addition to our annual programme and Rodney has kindly agreed to lead another walk next summer.

Thanks go to Steve Hull for organising the evening walk programme which provides walkers with a great opportunity to make the most of walking in the longer summer days. Thanks too to Nick Wild for organising the meal after the final walk.

The coach trip to Conway has been advertised and we’ve had a positive response with 38 confirmed bookings so far. Another advert will go out at the beginning of September.

Three Christmas meals have been booked and all are preceded by a walk, details on the Social Calendar. 

Andy Davies has contacted me to say that he has booked a Curry Night on Thursday 24th October at the Bengal Tiger Lily, at Monks Heath.

The booking in February for an ECR Talk about the story behind The Clink, the restaurant at Styal Prison, has been confirmed.

Offers to organise or lead future events, coach trips and or weekends away would be warmly welcomed!

Maggie Swindells

maggieswindells@gmail.com

22nd August 2019

APPENDIX 5

FOOTPATH COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE MAIN ECR COMMITTEE MEETING September 2nd 2019

There has not been a Footpath Committee Meeting since the last ECR Committee Meeting but business has been continuing as normal with various e mail actions in progress. I will be attending the bi-annual Cheshire East Footpath Secretaries Meeting in the morning of September 2nd  – directly before the ECR Meeting and will report verbally on any key issues.

1. The last ECR Meeting was unable to discuss suggestions regarding the long term continuity of the Project Team and I would like to encourage discussion to reach a conclusion. My previous suggestions remain unchanged, as follows. It might be timely for the main ECR Committee to consider how this work can be ensured of continuity in the future. My personal view is that a small group of 2 to 4 people might co-ordinate the work (not necessarily as a formal Committee). This would help to ensure that we have continuity of experience as members come and go from this work – as happens with the Footpath Committee.

2. It was timely that Jane Gay and Sue Munslow circulated links of press articles regarding Lost ways and Cyclists on Footpaths respectively. I have concerns on both these topics and will be raising these also at the Cheshire FP Secretaries Meeting. I would like to discuss these under AOB at the Meeting.

Briefly my concerns are:-

Lost Ways

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/07/ramble-on-the-fight-to-save-forgotten-footpaths

Our  useful meeting last January with Jack Cornish, the Project Manager for ‘Don’t Lose Your Way’ learnt about the project but also urged that the costs of claiming and establishing new paths need to be taken into account. He agreed to take this into consideration. It still appears that costs are not being considered at all. One enthusiastic Rambler in Suffolk has submitted more than 800 applications for new paths – all at the cost of the local PROW department’s limited resources. 

I will be updating the Lost Ways situation across Cheshire at my meeting of Footpath Secretatires.

Cycling on Footpaths

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ramblers-put-a-foot-down-over-shared-paths-with-mountain-bikers-and-horse-riders-2j2p0x0hf

About the same time as this article I saw a TV news item by the British Cycling encouraging the formal opening of all footpaths to cyclists. The background pictures of numbers of mountain bikers on muddy footpaths were dreadful! I have also recently heard Peak District cycling groups promoting routes across paths in the Peak District – which is obviously illegal at present. The Ramblers policy seems much too weak “Let’s discuss each case” and they should be more proactive to stop illegal use, much as they did against the use of 4×4 vehicles on bridleways.

I suggest we might discuss these views and possibly pass our conclusions to the other Cheshire Ramblers Groups and onwards to Central Office.

3. I have listed a few points of interest from the ongoing work of the Footpath Committee that illustrate what we are regularly doing.

  1. SEMMMS Road – completion of outstanding commitments for footpath access points. This is a protracted actionled by Neil Collie, where we are maintaining pressure on CE PROW and the SEMMS contract company to fulfil their various commitments for adequate access points and footpaths along this road.
  2. Proposed deletion Rainow FP15/Kettleshulme FP23 – another protracted problem!! We previously reported that PROW had recommended refusal of this application to the CE ROW Committee and hoped that this would allow proper reinstatement of the footpath (notably a new bridge).  Unfortunately the landowner has appealed to the Secretary of State and there will now be a public enquiry. We are not heavily involved but we will probably re-state our opposition to the proposed deletion.
  3. Link with Project Team – the Committee has already been made aware of the Project Team completing the clearance of the overgrown Alderley Edge FP2 in Clock House Wood of Alderley Edge National Trust. The work was coordinated between Brian Richardson and Nick Brearley, arising directly from Nick joining the Footpath Committee and using the Inspection Database to identify a useful task. We hope to continue this approach with Nick’s   efforts. I hope Brian Richardson can produce a short publicity article to pass to Colin Park on this work. It is worth quoting Nick’s comments “I led a long walk yesterday which included FP2. I must say that I can’t remember a better waymarked path and the clearance and level adjustments worked very well, allowing easy progress. Chris Munslow was on hand to give some background information about the work involved. There were hopeful signs that the path is being used and that the time was well spent.”
  4. Footpath Problems reported – a small number of problems have been reported over the last 3 months, either via Central Office, from local members of the public or ECR members. Advice is given on these and action taken with PROW as necessary. Details are not described her but one useful example can be described. A bridge on a path at Sutton was washed away in the bad weather and reported to us. By the time it was raised with PROW, they had already closed the path and started arrangements to replace the bridge. However, the limitations of their publicity process were demonstrated. Our knowledge of this problem was able to alert a Walk Leader (Teresa Marshall) to re-route her planned walk. We may decide to renew discussions with PROW over the way they show all types of closures on their website.
  5. Annual Footpath Inspection The annual inspection has been fully organised by Tony Battilana and is now in progress. We expect many inspectors will leave their inspection until close to the September 27th deadline – then we will be busy with our analysis before the ECR AGM. A few minor problems have been raised with Tony.

Dave Barraclough

26th June 2019

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/07/ramble-on-the-fight-to-save-forgotten-footpaths