RAMBLERS EAST CHESHIRE GROUP 2020 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING SATURDAY 14 NOVEMBER VIA ZOOM AT 3PM



AGENDA

  1. Apologies for absence.
  • Minutes of AGM held on Saturday 23 November 2019 for approval.
  • Matters arising from minutes.
  • Annual reports from officers.

Chair                                                  Jane Gay

Treasurer                                           Colin Finlayson

Membership secretary                     Sue Munslow

Social & events secretary               Maggie Swindells

Footpath Committee chair              Dave Barraclough

Publicity officer                                Colin Park

  • Election of officers

Chair                                                  Jane Gay

Treasurer                                           Colin Finlayson

Membership secretary                     Sue Munslow

Social & events secretary               Maggie Swindells

Footpath Committee chair              Dave Barraclough

Secretary                                           Kathryn Carty

Lost ways officer                              Keith Anderson

ECR urgently needs 3 new volunteers to assist with the posts of:

  1. Secretary (to succeed Kathryn Carty during 2021)
  2. Publicity Secretary (to succeed Colin Park)
  3. Projects and Maintenance Coordinator (to succeed Brian Richardson and incorporate maintenance tasks arising from Footpath Inspections)
  4. Motions received.
  • Appointment of Independent Examiner (Auditor of Accounts).
  • Any other business.

AGM REPORT OF CHAIR 2020

Firstly and foremost I hope that everybody is safe and well and has managed during these extraordinary times. If there is anybody out there who feels that the Ramblers can do something to help them then please just email me personally. 

It is brilliant that we have managed to get back walking and I’m hoping that by the time you read this that will still be the case.

This is an extremely strange year to report on. 

As far as the Area is concerned we held the area AGM and Sue, Dave and myself attended it. I have accepted the role of Area Chair for 12 months. Steve Butterfield, Area Secretary, has made a case out for the Chair not to keep rotating amongst the three groups. I totally understand this and have said that I am prepared to do the role for at least another 12 months. I have met with Steve several times and also had conversations with Dianne Simcoe who is the Area Support Officer for the North of England. We had been discussing working more closely with the other two groups in the area but circumstances have made this difficult and certainly not a priority. I should have attended National Conference but this was cancelled. The National AGM was held on line and lasted 40 minutes. 

Our programme seemed to run without a hitch throughout the winter but since the end of March things have been anything but normal. Many emails have been sent out and hopefully most people have felt as though they have been informed as to the way ECR have moved forward in these strange times. Initially when we could only have 6 walkers we decided that to try and organise this formally would put far too much pressure on walk coordinators so hence I emailed everybody explaining this and explaining how informal walks could be organised.

Once we could start walking again the challenge was to complete all the requirements imposed on the group nationally.  The committee did write a very detailed letter to head office expressing our concerns about several of their requirements. A major one of registering all walk leaders has, I think, now been addressed but this is just a gentle reminder to all walk leaders that they need to be registered as volunteer walk leaders. I have done that for everybody’s name that has been sent to me by the coordinators. People can check this by looking at Assemble on the website.

Trying to get the programme started again did take a massive amount of effort from all the walk coordinators and I wish to register a huge thank you to them. I know that several of them decided to lead the first couple of walks themselves and I know that everybody has made a massive effort to ensure that we had a programme up and running by the beginning of September. A special thank you must go out to all the walk leaders who were prepared to lead over recent weeks. I think the programme is now established and hopefully more leaders will be prepared to step forward and lead walks.

From the feedback I got it would seem that some walk leaders were reluctant to lead under the new regulations. We have been operating under these regulations for several weeks and I have not heard of any serious problems. The register seems quite straightforward and perhaps is a good idea. The risk assessment does not have to be fully completed with every box ticked and this, while it is  an additional layer of bureaucracy, doesn’t seem to have caused any problems. Well not that I’ve heard of anyway!! 

At the last committee meeting we discussed the issue of the back marker always being visible to the leader. This can be extremely challenging in a large group. Obviously it is vitally important that the leader always keeps the back marker in sight. Identifying them in a large group can be a problem, so it is suggested that if any leader wishes to buy one, or even two, high visibility tabards then ECR will stand the cost. 

I know that there are many people behind-the-scenes who make ECR one of the best walking groups within the Ramblers. The number of walks that we put on is amazing and this is because we have a large team of people who are prepared to give willingly of their time, effort and energy. It would be impossible to thank all of these people individually so this is just to formally say a huge thank you.

One person I do need to name personally and to thank for all the hard work that he has been involved in is Brian Richardson. Brian has headed up a project team which has carried out maintenance jobs as well as some very large projects. The latest project he was involved in was clearing a footpath in Alderley Edge and setting up waymarks. His report for the projects always detailed work carried out, the number of people who assisted and the number of hours worked. They always made interesting reading and made me realise how lucky we are to have so many people willing to give of their time. The latest large projects which Brian headed up were the Bollington steps and the Poynton footbridges; he was helped by a great team of volunteers. Brian is still prepared to help with projects but no longer wishes to head up the team, so guess what, we are looking for yet another volunteer. Thanks Brian 


As some of you will realise Colin Park is stepping down as a publicity officer. This will be a huge loss to ECR. Colin has been a very active member for many years. He was very involved in the Lost Ways project, long before it seemed to become important to Head Office. He resigned this post last year and handed over this work to Keith. I have had the privilege of seeing his file with all the documentation in it. Obviously there are hours and hours of work in this and for that I want to particularly thank him. He has also been the publicity officer for several years and raised the profile of ECR within the local paper. So I’m sure you would totally agree with me that we owe Colin a huge debt of thanks.

The committee also have been extremely supportive and hard-working over the past few months in these really difficult times. They have made my job so much easier and I am delighted that the vast majority of them are prepared to serve for yet another year. 

So I’m going to finish this report with a huge thank you to everybody who makes ECR such an outstanding walking group.

Jane Gay ECR Chair 

TREASURERS REPORT

Please see separate documents

MEMBERSHIP SECRETARY REPORT

This year the numbers of members has only changed slightly from 566 down to 564.  This compares with 2019 when the membership numbers decreased from 593 to 566.

The numbers of new members each month have shown the impact of the pandemic. From April to August we averaged only 1 or 2 new members each month. In September we had 10 new members join our group, followed by 8 in October.   Some of these were already rambler members but joined East Cheshire as we have a ‘greater choice of walks.’

Sue Munslow

SOCIAL SECRETARY REPORT

The 2019 Social Calendar culminated in three very successful Christmas lunches. The weekend walkers’ lunch, arranged by Teresa Marshall, was held at the Windmill. The midweek walkers’ event was arranged by David Gylee and Andy Davies at The Church House and Georgie and Peter Everson arranged a similar event for the long walkers. The meals were enjoyed by all.  

The Social Calendar for 2020 opened with ‘Keith’s Sherry Walk’ on New Year’s Day, led by Lorraine Tolley and Melanie Davies, and we thought we were off to a flying start! The 2020 programme had the makings of an interesting social events programme for the year ahead. This was due to the kind contribution, and support of, several members of the East Cheshire Ramblers community. In addition, we had a dash of outside contributors to add to the mix. Unfortunately COVID arrived, and our programme had to be largely shelved.

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. I would like to thank them all, on behalf of all the members, for offering their time and enthusiasm to do so this year.  I hope that, when national restrictions allow us to safely resume our social programme, they will come forward again to offer their support for future events. Our programme wouldn’t happen without them. 

Maggie Swindells

FOOTPATH COMMITTEE REPORT TO ECR AGM 2020

The work of the Footpath Committee work has continued through the 2020 pandemic problems with very little change from its regular work, now well established over many years. The key work of the Committee can be summarised as four key functions:-

  1. Consultation with Cheshire East Public Rights of Way  Dept. (PROW) on:
  1. Public Footpath Orders (Diversions, new Map orders etc.)
    1. ROW Consultative Committee attendance. (suspended in 2020 due to COVID19)

Over the last year we have dealt with nine footpath diversion or modification orders. None have been controversial. They included a consultation on a possible diversion at Ingersley Mill of Rainow footpath 37 which has been closed for five years due to a major landslip.

  • Inspection of all 1298 footpaths in our 33 parishes by our team Footpath Inspectors, recording on our database and passing the results to the PROW Enforcement Officers. For the fourth year we have achieved 100% coverage which is a magnificent achievement, matched by few if any other Ramblers Groups. The level of problem paths has remained low at about 7% – a reflection of the generally good paths in our area. Thanks go to all our Footpath Inspectors, many long serving since the first inspections in 2004 and also to Tony Battilana the inspection organiser and Roger Fielding for maintaining the results database. This is now very well developed and is being increasingly useful to PROW Enforcement Officers.
  • Liaison with the 3 PROW Enforcement Officers to discuss specific path problems, both arising from our inspection programme and also reported by our members. We have regular communications at a very practical level. However, the PROW Department is suffering problems of under resourcing through financial constraints and staff sickness.
  • Consultation and involvement with other Ramblers Groups in Cheshire and also with Central Office over national issues and projects. This includes the work on the ‘Lost Ways’ where the Central Office project has checked and verified large numbers of possible ‘Lost Ways’ to claim. However, ECR has concerns that these may be largely unnecessary in our area and could divert limited resources from the existing network. Keith Anderson has taken over the brief on Lost Ways after many years of valuable work by Colin Park.

We hope that the efforts of the Footpath Committee contribute to your enjoyable and safe walking across East Cheshire. Any offers of help would be appreciated in such tasks as future Footpath Inspectors or assisting the Committee in analysing the inspection results trends.   We have specifically been hoping to find a volunteer who could coordinate the minor maintenance tasks identified by the inspection results and to liaise with Cheshire East PROW over this.   Please e mail me on dave@thebarracloughs.co.uk if you can help.

Dave Barraclough – ECR Footpath Committee – October 2020

PUBLICITY OFFICER REPORT

Weekly walk articles to the Macclesfield Express terminated with the start of Covid in March. Since then our group walks have been very local and often planned at short notice. There is really nothing new that can be written about most of our walks and I feel that these articles have really now run their course. All other activities since March have either been cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Colin Park