ECR Meeting Minutes Tuesday 23rd June 2021

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MINUTES OF ECR MEETING TUESDAY 23 JUNE 2021     

Location – chair’s garden and Kathryn via Zoom                

Start time 1.30 pm

Meeting closed approx 4.45pm

ATTENDANCE

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

Keith Anderson (lost ways)

  • Minutes of the last meeting

Previous minutes approved.

  • Matters arising from last meeting
  • Projects and maintenance coordinator job description (separate from FP committee).  Dave had drawn this up previously but still needed a discussion with Brian Richardson in order to agree it.  There will then be two job descriptions, this one complementing Brian’s role.  Dave understands that it is accepted that there will be two separate roles.  No-one has been identified for the maintenance coordinator role.
  • Wincle Path.  The permissive path had been agreed with the landowner by Alan Catherall but the signed document had not been returned by the farmer.  Colin will speak to the landowner.  Dave explained that permissive paths don’t appear on footpath inspection lists but are checked unofficially.  Such paths remain open due to goodwill on the part of the landowner. Cheshire East do not maintain permissive paths.  The path is in the inspection area of a FP inspector and he can be asked to check it as part of his Wincle inspections and to report back on its state.
  • Archiving function on website.  Roger has put the tab on (access via members / docs / archives.
  • Read only access to footpath database.  This has been done and has been found easy to use.
  • Awards for members.  The criteria for such one off awards had been looked at and the recipients of such awards had been exceptionally

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outstanding in terms of time contributed to the cause, knowledge and expertise but were no longer active (Alan Catherall, Peter Cummings and Norman Ridley). Collating the background of such individuals is very dependant on members knowing their history.

  • Don’t Lose Your Way Current thought is that this will fall flat.  The amount of required record keeping is very onerous. It will be kept as a regular agenda item. Dave says 80% of paths have been identified by non-members.  One of those who spoke against Dave’s motion is the author of a book on lost ways and who is very involved with Open Spaces which indicates a conflict of interest.  The other two Cheshire groups have no interest in lost ways.  Jane’s impression is that there is little enthusiasm.  Even the interactive map is still not done.  This will be kept as a permanent agenda item and feedback will be given by Keith who will be asked to circulate regular lost ways updates to the committee.
  • Restarting group walks is addressed in Jane’s report but the salient points are detailed here.  Everyone is struggling to get walks on the programme.  People want to get away on holiday and so do not wish to commit to leading.   We need to encourage new walk leaders by reintroducing a buddy system so that the novice leader is helped from start to finish.  Planning a route should not be a problem as there are many listed on our website (walk planner) in map form divided into walk categories.  The map form may be a problem for some people.

It was suggested that  a brief survey could be done asking potential walk leaders about walk leading to see why they don’t currently lead and what help they think would give them the confidence to lead.  Maggie and Jane will put together a survey.  People will be asked if there are any issues on walks they go on.  This will elicit any concerns about walk numbers.

The numbers on walks are increasing and the number of leaders limiting walk numbers using a booking system is reducing.  The latter is to be encouraged but it remains up to the walk leader.  Ideally we will reach the position where there is no maximum number and no mandatory booking. Jane to ask Roger to remove the red strap line which says advanced booking required.

Andy has filled lots of the Thursday medium slots so it is good that the Thursday walk is being revived.

Dave still believes another slot should be given to short walks as walk numbers on short walks are too high.  A new coordinator would have to be found to run this.

  • Reports from officers

The Chair’s report includes the following

Alan Catherall’s memorial – Jane wanted to convey a huge thank you to all those who have supported this initiative and she will mention them at the AGM. Progress has been made and Jane provided up to date information about this at the meeting.
Lynda, Alan’s widow, is in agreement with a kissing gate being

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installed Poynton with Worth FP27. There will be a footpath post with 2 plaques, one saying how the work is funded and carried out, the other a

memorial to Alan. There will also be, along footpath 27, an additional waymarker post. Broken blades on a post where Lyme Handley 13 meets 22  will be replaced.  An additional permissive path may also be added in this area. The landowner is happy with this idea but needs to speak to the tenant.

£525 has been collected but because Brian Richardson is fitting the items this reduces the cost to £286.43.  Dave suggested that the balance is held in reserve should there be any expenses relating to the Wincle path, before any is donated to a charity of Linda’s choosing.

            Long weekend walk coordinator

Jane has spoken to someone who may take over Sue Thersby’s job when she finishes at Christmas after a lengthy time in the role.

Walk programmes

The short mid week programme is complete for 3 months and the weekend one just short of two of three walks.  All coordinators are struggling and if walk leaders don’t come forward then there will be gaps in the programme.  Coordinators must be thanked for their perseverance.

Slow ways

Jane has attended a zoom presentations on Slow Ways but doesn’t think this has much to offer ECR at the moment.  It was about linking all villages and towns to each other.  The idea is that anybody could walk from anywhere to anywhere using slow ways and be provided with details of local accommodation and attractions.  Maggie also attended the presentation.

Don’t Lose Your Way

Jane also attended a zoom presentation on this with Richard Sharpe, Dominic Tooze and Nicky Wilson being the presenters with input from Jack Cornish.
Apparently it is completely externally funded and came about from a motion at conference.
The goal is “recording more rights-of-way for a better network”
Within the structure they are looking for coordinators, researchers, archive volunteers. So far they have recruited 25 coordinators to cover 35 authorities with approximately 160 needed.
The researcher role will be introduced later in the summer.

Keith will be able to say much more but one interesting fact was that 80% of the people who have put Lost Ways onto the interactive map are not Ramblers members.
It was also said that the British Horse Society need collaboration and we are doing just that.
It seemed to say  “That footpath secretaries or coordinators can override decisions made”
The next steps are to develop the digital map, to organise training and resources which need more support, and to recruit coordinators and archive volunteers.

Jack Cornish wrapped up the meeting and said that Ramblers didn’t want to be in this position. The government said they wouldn’t do it. He said that Ramblers were stepping up and we need more volunteers. Any concerns

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should be fed back to both Jack and Dom.

Jane didn’t believe either of the other two groups which make up Cheshire East were playing any sort of active role.

Keith says the bottom line is that we have no one in Cheshire East interested in doing the work. He did say that the meeting notes that Richard Sharpe et al  send out are always useful and perhaps we should ask him to circulate these to us.

Membership secretary’s report (Sue Munslow) included the following

Numbers remain stable at about 570.

Sue attended a recent membership dashboard webinar with Iain Johnston from Central Office.

The dashboard has a separate list of members who wish to receive emails from us, currently over 300.  This list can be downloaded into Excel to be used to issue emails.  Information on the dashboard is updated daily.

ECR’s practice has been to encourage members to be contacted by email.  It seems that other groups are still sending out programmes in the post.

The use of the Ramblers walk app is being encouraged so that walk leaders take a register.  From such data 10% of those attending walks are non-members and they should be encouraged to join and be limited to walking 3 times before joining.

Central office hopes to use the data it collates from the app to lobby government re support and the value of walking.

Only the membership secretary has access to membership data unless there is a request for access from the chair or secretary.

Footpath Committee report (Dave Barraclough)

FOOTPATH COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE ECR COMMITTEE MEETING 23rd JUNE 2021

The action to organise access (read only) to the Footpath Database for all ECR Committee was completed – e mail 13/4/21 to all ECR Committee). Have members successfully logged on and have they found it of any benefit?

There has been one Footpath Committee Meeting on 13th April since the last ECR Committee Meeting. The business discussed was largely routine and some summary points are:

  1. The annual inspection of all footpaths in the ECR area is currently in progress. We have a full complement of inspectors and we are hopeful of another year with 100% coverage by the time of the AGM.
  2. There were a small number of Diversion Orders recorded and some routine queries. We plan to request a separate meeting with PROW over their procedure and publicity concerning Temporary Closures.
  3. A significant request from PROW was that they wished to use the data from the ECR Footpath Database in their annual report to the Rights of Way Committee. This is because of their staff limitations in carrying out their normal sample survey. We have willingly agreed to this request, subject to an acknowledgement to ECR. We hope that PROW will continue to use the information in our Footpath Database.
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  • The Projects Group organised by Brian Richardson has made a welcome re- start to work with a couple of tasks and there was a good response to the request for volunteers. This included a useful task to set up a ‘by pass’ to the eroded section of the River Dean at footpaths Wilmslow 134, 78 and 127.
  • There has  been no progress in organising a Maintenance Coordinator for minor maintenance work. This action needs to be continued.
  • Cheshire East PROW re-started its Consultative Meetings by ZOOM on May 26th. The Agenda was largely routine and ECR requested a summary of their progress on dealing with the backlog of Modification Orders for new paths. There was no opportunity for the normal session of meeting their Enforcement Officers.
  • The PROW staffing of its Enforcement Officers is currently undergoing significant staffing changes. One long serving Officer – Evan Pedley – is taking early retirement and the temporary Officer, Nicola Swinnetron, is taken over the parishes in the west of Cheshire East. She has been very active in collaborating with ECR over the last two years. They are advertising for a new Officer who will take over the majority of parishes in the ECR area. This is an unfortunate change for ECR as we will inevitably lose a significant amount of experience in dealing with problems.

Dave Barraclough

17th June 2021

            Social Secretary’s report – Maggie Swindells

Since the last meeting we have hosted two more successful Zoom events. Nicola Swinnerton PROW Officer on the 19th April and Cheshire Wildlife Trust on the 17th May. Many thanks to everyone who led an event and to Jane for sorting the Zoom licence and for ‘zoom testing’!  

Two history walks are planned for September. Judith Wilshaw will lead a walk in Stockport on Thursday 2nd September and a Wincle History Walk, led by Rodney Hughes, will take place on Friday 17th September. I’ll be advertising both after the meeting. 

Jane organised a very successful weekend away in Patterdale. The weekend was blessed with excellent weather, company and food! Thank you for organising such a good weekend Jane.

Andy Davies is leading a weekend away in Ambleside in mid-September. 

A Christmas Carol Walk led by Jenny Bordoli is in the diary for the first Saturday in December. Hopefully the Christmas Carol Concert at Nether Alderley, which usually takes place on same day, will take place this year. 

If restrictions are lifted in July we may be in a position to think about holding events at the Tennis Club and booking Christmas Meals. Any offers? 

Thanks again to everyone who makes a contribution to the ECR Social Calendar we couldn’t do it without you all. 

Ideas for events are warmly welcomed & volunteers needed for the Christmas meal.

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Treasurer’s report – Colin Finlayson


As expected there has been very little financial activity that has taken place since our last ECR zoom meeting however there are now signs that our usual activities are starting to ramp up with the recent Patterdale Weekend being held and our Projects team starting to re-mobilise. So hopefully we could have a more active final quarter to this financial year.

Our bank balance stands at £9371.00 as of 22nd June.

The 2021/22 Budget Review documents have just been issued by RA Central and we have to submit our budget on 16th July.

6.ANY OTHER BUSINESS

a) Dave said it was impossible to send any message to the Chair or trustees of the Ramblers and this should not be the case.  There is now a new chair and we might ask Diane Simcoe to request a means of direct communication.  Dave will put together a request to be discussed at the trustees’ meeting and Jane will send it.

b) Jane wanted to mention a message she had received from a Rambler who didn’t want to lead and who felt they therefore shouldn’t go on walks.  A committee member would speak with that member and reassure them that they are entitled to walk, and furthermore, in this case, they gave their time to play an active role in another part of the organisation.

The procedures around leading had put them off doing it and this should be reported back to central office.  The risk assessment form does put some people off but it must be stressed to leaders that this is a very minor task when you actually get round to doing it.  It was pointed out that this was brought in because of covid but its contents were not all as a result of covid so it needs reappraising.

c)  Some of the walks were highlighted advance booking essential but when you clicked on them this was not the case.  Jane will email Roger about this.

d)  Additional committee members are needed.  Melanie expressed her wish not to have an actual role on the committee and had doubts about remaining on it.  This was entirely a reflection of the fact that she had just left  her drama group’s committee after 15 years and she felt she needed a break from committees.

e)  Need a long walks weekend coordinator.

f)  Need a replacement secretary.  Kathryn will continue until the AGM but will resign at the AGM.   Hopefully someone will come forward.

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g) Colin Park put in a lot of effort as Publicity Officer and nobody has come forward to replace him.  It is proving difficult to get things on facebook. That said, we are getting new members.

e)  Dave said we should give thought as to how long people should remain in post and whether it would be better to have a set period of time.  There is always the danger that replacements won’t be found because of their perception of how long they would need to stay in post.  Colin doesn’t believe that this is laid down anywhere.

f) £5000 is still ring fenced for footpath issues.  Social events are self-funded.  There is quite a large cash balance. This could be used to make up a shortfall on social events and related expenses.

g) Related to “f” above.  There needs to be procedure followed re recce expenses for trips away.  It was felt that walk leaders should be encouraged to charge 28p per mile and not to feel that they shouldn’t claim.  If someone recces a walk they often meet other expenses themselves such as overnight stays.  If the recce sum charged to members going on the walks (£ 5 was charged per head for the Patterdale weekend) proves to be insufficient to cover the recce costs paid out then the surplus can fund this.

h) The AGM is on 20 November.  Papers are to go out three weeks before, by 30 October.  The FP committee have a meeting scheduled for 5 October

Date of next meeting 18 October at 1.30pm at Jane’s