MINUTES OF EAST CHESHIRE RAMBLERS MEETING HELD
Tuesday 11 August 2020
Meeting held at 2.30pm in Jane Gay’s garden and it closed around 4.40pm.
- APOLOGIES AND ATTENDANCE
Apologies from Sue Munslow
- MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING
The minutes of the previous meeting held on May 5 were approved.
- MATTERS ARISING FROM PREVIOUS MINUTES
No matters arising.
- WALKS PROGRAMME
This is clearly the most important issue for discussion, how to proceed to get walks reinstated from September 2020, in accordance with guidelines from Head Office (HO).
- Volunteer role. To comply with HO’s rules any walk leader has to be recorded on the system as having a volunteer role. Jane has been busy in discussions with HO and it has finally been agreed that we can send a list of walk leaders and their membership numbers (we don’t need to ask individual members for these) to HO and they will register them as walk leaders. We felt strongly that we would have lost walk leaders if individuals had to self register. It was considered whether we ought to just register everyone but was decided that, as well as not going down well with HO, this would result with everyone being bombarded with emails re unrelated volunteering issues.
At the time when Jane spoke to Steve Butterfield (Area secretary) we only had 17 volunteers registered.
A membership list is held by Sue as membership secretary so we should be able to extract a list of walk leaders from this.
- Risk assessment. The keeping of a formal risk assessment is mandatory and so we have no choice but for walk leaders to keep one if we wish to get a walk programme up and running. This needs to be kept either on paper or electronically for 12 months. All boxes do not have to be ticked. Walk leaders will be responsible for keeping such records. They will not be passed to walk coordinators. We have no idea if their existence will ever be checked.
The committee intends to write to the CEO and Chairman of the Trustees to object to non-Covid related issues being brought into the risk assessment. It was felt there should have been consultation before the guidelines were sent to volunteers. In the meantime, however, in order to get walks restarted, we needed to comply by completing the form as issued by HO. Printed risk assessment stencils could be taken to walks to hand out as required in the hope this will limit objections.
- Register. A register has to be kept of walk attendees so that this information could be passed to a track and trace team should this be necessary. A record of the name and telephone number of each walker is therefore required. There is an available stencil and again this could be printed and handed to walk leaders. After some discussion it was felt this was the simplest method. If we asked walkers to bring along a printed slip containing their contact details, half wouldn’t. Additionally it would be another thing to ask for. The register only needs to be kept for 21 days. People can use the app if they so wish but a written register is sufficient.
- Advertising the walks. Roger will help however he can. If a coordinator sends him walks for four months (Sep to Dec) then he will put them all on the programme. HO suggested shorter periods but it really doesn’t matter. This is up to coordinators. If they can only get walks for September finalised, then Roger will put these onto the system, and add others as and when.
It is our intention that Covid related advice is put on the website so that the leader doesn’t, for instance, need to advise walkers not to share food and drink! Some generic statement could be a header before the list of forthcoming walks.
- Walk numbers of a maximum of 30. Firstly it was felt that such numbers are very unlikely even for short walks. We don’t want a booking system as this just complicates things for the leader. The simplest way of applying this rule is to say on the website that places will be offered on a first come first served basis. So after the first 30 people have signed the register, any surplus would have to be turned away, a very unlikely scenario. Should a walk leader want a booking system then he/she would have to provide their telephone number on the programme and ask would-be walkers to phone in advance and book on.
REPORTS FROM OFFICERS
Treasurer’s report to end July 2020 included the following highlights since the last report of 5th May 2020.
- All social events cancelled and members refunded where appropriate.
- Little banking activity apart from annual peppercorn rents paid to land owners on the Charles Head permissive path.
- Bank balance at 31/7/20 £6290.89.
- 20/21 annual budget was reviewed on 23 July via Zoom and its basic constituents parts agreed. Footpath committee with PROW (public rights of way) identified several potential improvement and maintenance projects requiring an estimated £8000 of funds from RA. This was then revised down to £6000.
- The final ECR budget was submitted to Area on 31 July.
- £50 donations to Mountain Rescue are being randomly made to Glossop, Kinder, Buxton and Oldham.
- FOOTPATHS Dave Barraclough’s report included the following points
- The Footpath Committee has held one Meeting on 25th June. The Agenda covered various routine items of progressing several footpath problem issues plus Diversions etc. There were no items of special concern to bring to the Main ECR Committee.
- The main business was to review the annual footpath inspection of all paths. Following the end of lockdown, it was hoped that inspections could restart and still be complete by the normal September 31st deadline. Tony Battilana wrote to all inspectors to encourage restart and check whether any inspectors will be affected by COVID19 – but none have been reported.
- We noted that recent changes in Ramblers Insurance mean our Footpath Inspectors will be insured under improved terms, including personal accident. We noted that, somewhat surprisingly, volunteers can register to enjoy ongoing cover without needing to be a member of Ramblers. (This seems to be in conflict to the requirement that limits non members to 3 walks before they should become members.)
- Footpath Inspections since CV19 lockdown ended are going well. Theyare actually well ahead of previous years. To the end of July 39% of footpaths have been inspected, significantly higher than 9% by July in 2019.It appears that inspectors have more time available to carry out their inspections. A limited number of problems have been reported to PROW who are dealing with them, although they are stretched by CV19 resource problems.
- Subsequent to the meeting, the ECR Budget Proposal for 2021 has included £8,000 (revised to £6000) for proposed footpath projects, an increase over previous years. This covers proposed trials on waymarks, fingerpost changes to sustainable materials and some requests from PROW for specific projects.
- Nicola Swinnerton from PROW (public rights of way) is looking at seeking permission for a new path through Savio House land and is asking for Ramblers to contribute. We must consider this carefully as PROW has a statutory duty to fund projects and we don’t want to get sucked in to sharing costs unnecessarily.
Minutes Kathryn will continue to pass around draft minutes soon after a meeting and ask members for any additions or alterations. Otherwise the minutes would remain draft until after the next meeting and until they had been updated following comments in that meeting.
Keith had kindly offered to take over from Colin. He had contacted Dominic Tooze (fairly new to his role as assistant to Jack Cornish at PROW) and Tooze had then sent Keith details of an Area role. It was agreed that Keith should reply on the basis of only wanting to do work for the group, not the area. Dave thought it possible that Tooze mistook East Cheshire Ramblers and Cheshire East Area to be one and the same, whereas, in fact, there were three groups (Congleton and South Cheshire in addition to ours).
Colin Park’s considerable effort has suggested 19 Lost Paths are worth further consideration. This will be compared with the list of 5 paths suggested by the Footpath Committee from the total list of 45 identified in the old Natural England review of Cheshire Lost ways that lie in the ECR area. Keith will work further on this list of 19.
Dave was working as a verifier on lost ways. Other people had identified lost paths and Dave was checking these to see if they were correct and, more importantly, worth spending money on. It seems the people identifying lost paths were not necessarily walkers, so may identify a path diagonally across a field when there was now a path around a field. Whilst this may have been a former route it is obviously not worth pursuit. Dave believed the cost of pursuing a single path would be at least £5000 so clearly it has to be worthwhile. Otherwise, PROW’s budget will be decimated.
Maggie explained that Theresa Marshall was reluctant to take deposits from individuals for the weekend meal if these were going to have to be returned due to cancellation of the event. Colin said that ECR would pay the deposit and then it could be simply returned to ECR in the event of cancellation. This would save a lot of effort.
Thanks to Jane
Committee members thanked Jane for all her hard work replying to members’ emails and calls related to Covid19 and for dealing with all the correspondence from Head Office.
- AGENDA ITEMS FOR NEXT MEETING
AGM planned for 14 November.
Co-ordination of maintenance team
- DATE OF NEXT MEETING
Thursday 1st October