Start time 2.00 pm


Jane Gay – chair

Dave Barraclough – footpath committee chair

Kathryn Carty – secretary

Sue Munslow – membership secretary

Maggie Swindells – social secretary

Colin Finlayson – treasurer

Melanie Davy

  1. Apologies and attendance

Apologies from Keith Anderson.  Melanie was welcomed by all to the committee, this being her first meeting.

  • Minutes of the last meeting

None to approve.

  • Matters arising from last meeting
  • Permissive paths

Colin had provided us in advance with some notes about permissive paths and wondered whether consideration of a possible permissive path ought to be flagged up to the committee before its pursuit. 

It was explained that when a landowner grants a permissive path this prevents it ever becoming a legal right of way.  Such paths can be closed by giving 24 hours notice.  If, conversely, a path is claimed as a right of way, closure of the path would be very difficult.  If it can be shown there has been general usage of a path for over 20 years then this becomes a legal right of way.  A legal right of way imposes a duty on the landowner to maintain that path.

Colin was simply proposing a policy of applying a usesfulness criteria to permissive paths. ECR are applying this criteria to lost ways.

This was agreed in principle and Dave and Colin will discuss further.  Colin would also first discuss with Alan Catherall and John Goodman.  They have both been very active and successful in obtaining most useful permissive paths.

  • Successor to Kathryn

It remained the case that Kathryn would continue until a successor was found.  Jane would make contact with a possible volunteer.

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  • Publicity officer to succeed Colin Park

No one had so far come forward.  It was felt that fewer and fewer people saw the articles in the Macclesfield Express which was no longer a free paper.  A volunteer au fait with social media was really needed so that ECR was not just reliant on a newspaper.  Using social media may attract some much needed younger members. The committee will continue to look for a suitable successor.

  • Projects and maintenance coordinator

Dave had drafted and circulated a job description in advance of the meeting.  He was keen to separate the roles of the Maintenance Team from the Project Team – the former doing lighter more routine maintenance rather than one off projects of substance.

Nick Brierley is the most recent addition to the footpath committee and he is highlighting work to be passed to the maintenance coordinator.

Dave will circulate the job description (minus the database link) to the FP committee and will discuss it with possible interested parties.

The database is deliberately not open to everyone to secure the data.

Dave will discuss with Nicola Swinnerton (Public Rights of Way officer) how to make best use of the database.  She had approached Brian Richardson direct re rebuilding some steps near Savio House rather than going through the FP committee. This was not necessarily prioritising work according to need.

  • Archiving

Jane had discussed this with David Bates who was ECR secretary before Adrian. He had been most helpful telling Jane what process he had followed.  Archiving of paper documents is done at Chester and the rules are quite onerous.  There had been no formal archiving done since 2017.

Documents from public enquiries need to be kept but other material could be stored electronically.  Jane will contact Head Office to see what their policy is on this.  She will speak to David Bates again as Chester are asking how much material we are likely to send them.  We can then review the future needs between paper and electronic archive material.

  •  Walk Programme

Walk coordinators had been asked to put together a programme on the basis they thought best during the pandemic.  Sue Thersby had been doing it on a monthly basis, Jane Gay and Dave Collorick had drawn up a three month programme, Andy Davies had filled Thursday slots for three months and was busy trying to fill up the second day and Kathryn had drawn up a schedule for about two months.

Jane suspected it may not be until June before we can restart with numbers of more than six. If the six rule comes into force then it is unlikely that coordinators will want to draw up a schedule of walks for one leader and five others.

It was up to coordinators as to whether they wanted to get started on drawing up a new schedule to run from, say June, or to leave it closer to the time.

Kathryn had been in communication with Paul Higinbotham who will take over her role.                                                                                               Page 2

  • Don’t Lose Your Way

Sue Munslow had circulated a link to a Times article and had drawn attention to publicity on Countryfile.

There was concern about how paths could be safe for walkers if they became multi-use. It was also worrying how active the British Horse Society is in pursuing more bridleways.

Keith applied to become coordinator for Cheshire East Area “Don’t Lose Your Way”.  Our group had expressed some concerns about the way the project  was run and so it is good news that Keith now has this role.  Dominic Tooze is assistant to the national Don’t Lose Your Way movement and has spoken with Keith. 

Dave had hoped to show the Don’t Lose Your Way link at the meeting and log onto an OS map of Britain and then look at the local area but this wasn’t possible.

The movement has ambitions of adding another third to our current pathways, but it isn’t clear how this is calculated.  It is apparent from the Countryfile programme that money is available to open up the countryside more from the Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme.

Dave advises looking at the link.  Examples of lost ways that come up in our area include paths across what are now airport runways and across the Wythenshawe housing estate.  There is no list of paths and no grid location of paths, hence the question as to how distance of paths is calculated.

If members recall, Colin Park had whittled down worthwhile paths to 19 and the FP committee had reduced this to 5 or 6.

  • Slow Ways

Maggie has registered and offered to volunteer.  She will feed back.

  • Motions for conference

Conference is being held on 17 April.  Motions and submissions need submitting to ECR by mid January to enable circulation.  The national deadline is 6 March, circulation to Areas 9 March, and to Council members 19 March. 

Dave had circulated a paper.  There were two proposals re lost ways. 

1. Ramblers as a whole to make sure groups are fully informed so that claims are not made without approval by Areas / committees and 2. the cost of these projects should be ring fenced and self-financing and legal costs should not come out of group membership fees.  Further discussion was deferred until the next meeting.

Dave clarified that if the Don’t Lose Your Way project team agree that ECR should vet local applications then a motion won’t be put to conference.

Steve Butterfield (secretary of South Cheshire Ramblers) and Jane are currently attending conference.

If we decide to put forward a motion then we may need a brief meeting before 9 March.  The motion would have to go the other two Area groups so February 20 would be the deadline.

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  • Commendations

A general discussion took place about the merit of recommending any group member for a Queen’s Award. There was no clear criteria from national Ramblers re recognising members.  There were no plans to pursue any such awards.

  • Reports from officers

Sue Munslow (membership secretary) provided some encouraging facts which are copied below.

“New members 

6   Oct

1    Nov

7    Dec

6.   Jan.  Up to 10/01/21

Total membership.  571

We have not had over 570 members for over 19months.  

Instead of the gradual drop in numbers over the last few years we now have stable numbers overall.   Probably a reflection of the increase in interest in walking during this last year.”

  1. Any other business

Dave wrote to Head Office to say ECR planned to do footpath inspections as usual since people did this individually and footpaths were local to Inspectors so this was Covid compliant.  Their reply was to stop all activity even if there is only one person checking paths because of an insurance issue.  This will be pursued further.

A question was raised how to report a problem with a footpath.  Dave explained that there was a “path problem” link on the website.  However, it was more important to download a “path problem form” direct to Cheshire East’s website and if possible to attach a photo.  Also tick the box to request a reply and ask for a reply to be sent to your email address.  The Footpath Committee prefers to follow up problems themselves where Cheshire East PROW (public rights of way) are thought to be falling short on any issues.

  1. Date of next meeting

Tuesday 30 March 3 pm via zoom.

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  Action   Owner  
  3a) To discuss process for permissive paths. Dave & Colin  
  3c) To seek publicity officer should the opportunity to do so arise. All  
  3d) To circulate the projects and maintenance coordinator and discuss with parties. Dave  
  3e) To speak with HO re archiving and David Bates. Jane  
  10 Footpath inspections, to pursue the matter with HO. Dave  

Kathryn Carty (typed 20/1/2021)