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  Start time 3.00 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

Keith Anderson – lost ways

  1. Apologies and attendance

All committee members present.

  • Minutes of the last meeting

Previous minutes approved.

  • Matters arising from last meeting
  • a) Maggie – Slow Ways – nothing to report since last meeting.
  • b) Dave – re footpath inspections – a conversation was held with Head Office (HO) in which he pointed out that there were no government rules restricting one person walking so they were clearly able to continue with local inspections.  HO didn’t change their mind though rationale was unclear.  Dave took the view that activities were recommencing soon so not worth pursuing.
  • c)Colin – permissive paths – Colin had spoken with John Goodman and had précised a document prepared by John which has yet to be finalised.  Dave Barraclough has received a copy.  This document will provide guidance on the process to follow which includes first of all providing the committee with details for approval before any work is done on a potential permissive path.

Alan Catherall had secured a permissive FP in Wincle with the farmer’s agreement which added a loop to a right of way.  Dave had wondered whether this should be referred to HO in case there were any implications for Ramblers.  No maintenance costs fall on the FP owner.  Permissive paths effectively impose duties on Ramblers in the same way Public Rights of Way do on Cheshire East, such as maintenance of stiles and footpath.  Dave doesn’t recall a stile on the Wincle permissive path and the farmer just didn’t want any planting along the path.  It was believed that the Charles Head permissive path didn’t go to HO for approval. It was felt that there would not be onerous costs

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maintaining the Wincle permissive path.  The only possible thing is if a claim is made by walker injuring themselves there.  It was decided not to refer to HO.

  • d) Dave – projects and maintenance coordinator – Dave circulated a document to the FP committee and has received a couple of replies.  The document may be further tweaked before being put out to the membership to see if there is anyone willing to do the job.  The priority at the moment is to get the walk programme up and running.  It might be best just to say to the membership that a job description is available and to try and source an appropriate candidate.  The maintenance role needs to be quite separate from the FP committee.  Whoever takes on the role would report to the main committee.  Dave will send details to Brian Richardson.  This new role would complement Brian’s role.
  • e) Jane – archiving – Jane spoke to HO and was asked to leave it for a while as they are so busy with Covid. There are several questions to address.  What records HO require us to keep and in what format?  There must be some records we are legally obliged to keep for example re public enquiries but these are going to be limited in number. 

Also, a different question is how to make records accessible to members.  For instance Jane would find it helpful to be able to see what contributions different people are making to help assess whether this was exceptional and warranted an award of some kind.  She thought it would be good if this were considered on an annual basis but not minuted and Maggie thought some criteria could be drawn up to assist with this assessment.

Maggie questioned how long minutes should be left on the website and when these could be archived.  Could Roger create some archive function?

  •  Walks programme
  • Jane had notified all walk coordinators to say what she is doing and it was up to each coordinator to determine the length of the programme.  All coordinators are short of leaders, and no-one rushed to bring forward the start date when advised we could.
  • Tony Walker isn’t well so we need to check if he is still drawing up the stroller programme.
  • Sue Thersby has given notice that she will finish being the long weekend coordinator at Christmas.
  • Andy is currently asking people to fill a programme for medium walks on Thursdays and then, presumably, when this is full he will try and get another day up and running (alternate Tuesdays and Wednesdays).  There was concern that the numbers would get too high if there was only one medium weekday walk.
  • Steve Hull is the long week midweek coordinator and he too is finding it hard to fill the programme.
  • We need to check the date Ralph intends to start the evening walks.
  • There is no maximum walk number imposed.

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  • Don’t Lose Your Way
  • Keith had attended two meetings with Jack Cornish and Dominic Tooze and there were about 35/40 people at the meeting making it difficult to tell how the country was covered.  It seemed to Keith that there was great activity in some areas and little in others so it was hard to discern any national coherence. The two named above work with an external IT contractor but Ramblers also use them for other jobs and so they are not always available to them.  This is delaying how to use the map, it is really in the hands of others.  Tools are needed to log onto the map to look at a particular lost way being worked on.  The map is open to the public.  There are different levels of prioritisation awarded.  Basically the system is relying on volunteers.  Keith hasn’t been asked which of his prioritised routes should be worked on. He has 5 on the list from Dave, 19 from Colin Park.

Keith just doesn’t know where this project is heading.  It seems there is activity producing training manuals and on using information from the British Horse Society which is ahead in activity terms.  You have to believe a path is worth saving, and we already have thousands of useable footpaths.

Dave reminded the committee that Cheshire had been selected for a trial some four years ago and a lot of work was done by volunteers including Colin Park.  The outcome of a trial with the Dept of the Environment concluded the exercise was too expensive and of little overall benefit and was abandoned by them.

Clearly prioritising is needed and there are 8 categories.  Keith is not expected to look at the list and categorise the routes.

Keith would have liked to report that there had been some progress but he is unsure the project will ever progress without enthusiastic volunteers and is unsure who these will be.

We could ask PROW what they are doing in the local area.

Keith says questions need to be put forward before his next Zoom meeting and Maggie offered to draft a question as to whether they had been asked to pursue any useful paths.

Reports from Officers

Chair – Some of Jane’s report has been covered earlier in the meeting.

It has been suggested to all coordinators that we find leaders up until the end of June. All the coordinators have gone with this suggestion. It is up to them to decide what is the best method to move forward for their particular part of the programme.  Are we going to encourage people to go back to a six month programme  or perhaps a three or four month programme is more appropriate at this time?

Sue Thersby who is the weekend long walks coordinator has contacted me to say that she will continue in the role until this Christmas. A massive thanks must go to Sue who has carried out the role for eight years, during which time

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she has attended most, if not all, weekend walks, so what a huge commitment that is!!

Christine Brear has been in touch with me about the Bollington walking festival and asked if ECR are prepared to support it again as she wished to get in contact with some ECR walk leaders who led for the festival last year. I said that we would definitely support it and that I would ask the coordinators to put information out about it for the next schedule

I have taken part in the walk leader training which I have to say was interesting but extremely difficult to access. Ramblers use completely different grades to us. I actually think our members are very aware of what our grades mean and nobody has ever mentioned to me that they have been confused. The one thing that I did pick up from the training was that it’s a good idea to check the mobile coverage when you are doing the recce. They also said that incidents or incidents should be reported for example even if a walker was lost for a short time then that should be reported There is more information on this in the document hub on Assemble

I must congratulate Dave on getting the Cheshire East motion accepted for National Conference. This is no mean feat as there are only six motions being debated. At the moment Steve Butterfield and I are the delegates for conference but I’m hoping to be able to pass my place over to Dave so that he can speak to the motion. It was felt that Dave could propose the motion and answer questions on it.  Dave was accordingly nominated to attend instead of Jane

I have agreed with Gina Thompson to organise a walk in memory of Rosie Forth on Sunday, the 8th of August. That would’ve been Rosie‘s birthday. I’ve asked Gina if she will lead the walk at Lindow Common which is the last walk Rosie attended, and was led by Gina.  My plan is to invite her Goddaughter and Godson, who both live in the South, and maybe carry out some of the readings from the memorial service.  Everyone thought this was an excellent idea to remember a lovely member. Other thoughts are to take along a tin of Roses chocolates as Rosie quite often brought some along and if at all possible a few people may like to go to the pub to celebrate with Prosecco or rosé wine, the drinks of choice, as far as Rosie is concerned

Re-memorial for Alan I have copied a section from an email from from John Goodman.  It is agreed that some sort of footpath signage would be very fitting for Alan who worked tirelessly on improving the footpath network.

Briefly, the current cost of sponsorship is £375. (If that worries the committee I am sure you would find a queue of donors). Amongst the benefits that flow with PNFS signs is a dedicated group of volunteers, led by David Morton, who

erect and maintain all the signs, and replace them if necessary.

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 One choice is whether to have Alan’s in memoriam plaque attached to a recently erected PNFS sign post already in place – which is much quicker – or to find an appropriate location for a new one. This means finding a spot where one is needed and then getting the consent of the landowner for it to be erected, plus design and manufacture.

David Morton does the negotiations with landowners and oversees the whole process. He usually has a few already erected signs available for sponsors, plus ideas about possible locations for new signs.

 Lynda and the committee will have thoughts on location. Personally, Alan’s long association with Wincle as FP inspector and being known by some land owners there, almost suggests itself – if there is a place where signage is required.

I mentioned Wincle to David when checking the current cost with him. He said there is a sign available for sponsorship in nearby Gradbach. However, haste is the last thing needed here. Many views need to be sought on both the nature of the memorial before geography comes into it. Lynda is, of course, the person who most needs to happy with any choice” John

There was much discussion on this and it was felt that a new sign might be more appropriate than one already dated 2018, location to be decided.  Jane will speak again with Alan’s wife.  Colin pointed out that there would have to be a sign put up about the new Wincle permissive path so that might be appropriate.  Although a new sign would take longer, speed is not at issue here, more making a fitting tribute to Alan.  It was suggested that Nicola Swinnerton be approached re suitable site but Wincle is not her patch.

Jane also wondered about asking the long walkers to make a collection and then the balance being made up from surpluses from social activities.  Colin (treasurer) said that there was no problem either funding a balance or the entire cost. Both options were in accordance with the rules.

I would also like to discuss some walking routes which are on the website. If you go to “articles” and then “routes” you will find a very well presented leaflet called “local walks by members of the group”  “East Cheshire paths”

I have spoken to Roger about this and apparently they have been there for many years! He was looking at updating it so that people could access photos et cetera and we both decided that the details needed checking. So I’m asking if anybody is prepared to walk one of the routes and check the details both written and on the map.

Treasurer Colin

            The current balance is £8,927 with very little going out – a healthy balance.

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Membership Secretary Sue

            March Membership Report

New members to our group

January      7

February.    1

March.        3

Although numbers joining/leaving each month are fluctuating at present our overall membership numbers remain steady at 567.

In the last week there have been 4 new members.

Social secretary Maggie

            Maggie will add the date of the Bollington Festival to the schedule.

She and Gina are thinking of offering a day out to the Sandstone Trail but not a coach trip, but three walks would be put on.  Maggie thought it was worth trying it out to see how it goes.  She didn’t think there would be many takers for a coach trip.

She had also thought about a day trip to Hereford with a guided tour.  Travel by train is under two hours from Wilmslow.  This sounded a great idea but this would be put on hold for the timebeing.

Also Cheshire Wildlife Trust will do another Zoom session.

There were 63 on Ducan’s Zoom talk.  He hadn’t wanted payment for the charity and certainly not for himself.  It was felt however that the group could donate £75 to the Canal Trust.

The report is as follows

Social Secretary’s Report 30th March 2021

My thanks must go to Steve Hull, who suggested we could think about running ‘virtual’ events via Zoom. As a result of his suggestion we’ve managed to hold a few Zoom socials this year. Steve Hull led a very successful quiz in February and Marion Duff ran a mindfulness event in March. Duncan Learmond offered a Macclesfield Canal talk, due to take place on Monday 29 th March and two future events are planned; Nicola Swinnerton PROW Officer on the 19 th April and Cheshire Wildlife Trust on the 7 th May. Many thanks to everyone who offered to lead an event and to Jane for sorting the Zoom licence and for ‘zoom testing’!

Until coaches are up and running we thought it might be a good idea to offer a

‘Walking Day Out’ where people take their own cars? Gina Thompson and I thought we’d try organising one in West Cheshire using the Sandstone Trial as a possible location?

Another idea could be a train trip to Hereford with a city walk and a visit to the


Key dates for AGMs could be published but I feel dates and venues for Christmas Meals may need to wait until the impact of the lockdown easing is known?

Maggie also provided a draft of planned activities / events.

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Chair footpath committee – Dave

Footpath activity since the last ECR Meeting has been fairly routine, with e mail exchanges with PROW over a few ‘problem’ paths:-

  1. Neil Collie has inspected a Diversion Order of Macclesfield Forest FP 34 & 35 and then objected in order to finally ‘get it right’.
  2. Poynton FP80 – severe mud as footpath passes under railway bridge. PROW has responded promptly with clearing the mud but the problem of a low bridge is not easily resolved.
  3. Rainow FP62 – steps in poor condition, landowner requested PROW action and Nicola Swinnerton has requested ECR assistance via Brain Richardson. The photos and our database results suggest this is barely necessary – but in the absence of higher priority tasks being identified, it may be carried out by the Project Team at some point.
  4. Wilmslow FP 76 – near Handforth. Severe river erosion has caused part of the path to fall into the river. ECR suggested a temporary diversion for nearby paths to remain open  but PROW has insisted on a complete closure for safety reasons. This group of paths is well used by Handforth residents and we believe the public will now develop their own unofficial diversion. We can do no further at present.
  5. We are planning to restart long term discussion at the Footpath Committee and with PROW over  a couple of locations on the Gritstone Trail where the route is dangerous as it  passes for a short distance on a busy road.

Tony Battilana has organised a full complement of inspectors for the 2021 Footpath Inspections. The circulation of instructions to the Footpath Inspectors was delayed by the lockdown but this will now be able to proceed. This is now in good shape and the database is steadily improving – particularly with the inclusion of multiple photos for footpath problems. Committee Members could help by encouraging to spread the word that we would like inspectors to take photos and also to carry out minor clearance by using secateurs on their inspections. (The majority are authorised to do this.) 

The footpath inspectors have access to the database to enter reports and to view them.  Dave will ask Roger for a read only logon for the FP database for Main ECR Committee members.  Maggie mentioned insurance and Dave clarified that Tony had put out guidance on this.

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Actions agreed

 3 d)Projects and maintenance coordinator job description to Brian RichardsonDave 
 3 e)Archiving function on website.  To ask Roger if this is possible.Jane 
 4To see if Tony Walker able to remain coordinator for stroller walksJane 
 4To check with Ralph the start date of evening walks.Jane 
 5Question to pose in advance of Keith’s next Zoom meeting on Don’t Lose Your Way.Maggie 
 10Ask Roger Fielding for possible “Read Only” access to the excellent Footpath Database for all ECR Main Committee Members.Dave 
 Pages 4&5To continue the discussion about a suitable way of recognising the work of Alan Catherall   All 

Date of next meeting Wed 23 June 1.30pm at Jane’s house.