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DARTMOOR ACCESS FORUM MINUTES Tuesday 2 June 2009 Present: Jonathan Aylett, Mark Bailey, Simon Booty, Claire Boughey, Kevin Chamberlain, Elizabeth Kitson, Bill Lane, Brian Poole, Joanna Radford, Bill Robertson, Patrick Watson, Sam Whittlesea Bill Allen (DNPA Sector Ranger), Anna Baness (DNPA Access Officer), Rob Steemson (DNPA Head of Rangers, Recreation and Estates), Andrew Watson (DNPA Principal Officer for Rangers and Access) Sue Bishop (DAF Secretary) Also present: Tony Gould, Colin Jones (Natural England) Apologies: Philip French, Sharon Gedye, Peter Harper, John Howell, Patrick Watson welcomed those present, and asked for a moment of reflection to remember Rosemary Mudge, a former member of the Forum who died recently. The Secretary was also asked to write a letter of condolence to Mr Mudge and his family. 248) Feedback from morning site visits i) Members of the Forum thought that the new Haytor Visitor Centre fits in well with the surroundings, and that the people counters were very discreet and should provide useful information. ii) Members felt that it had been very useful having Tony Gould with his tramper present, as he could demonstrate the capabilities of the vehicle. iii) There was mixed reaction to the audio trail, some members felt that it was very good and would try it out again, others thought that the commentary detracted from the experience of hearing the moorland sounds. Andrew Watson reported that the DNPA website had received 279 hits on the audio trail in the two weeks from 18 May. iv) Tony Gould told members that a number of things can act as barriers to access, including o deep grooves worn in tracks by cyclists, o erosion around boulders, leaving them too high for the tramper to negotiate, o self closing gates and certain types of latches can be difficult, and there needs to be enough space around the gate to enable manoeuvring, o camber and width of the track can also be an issue. Tony Gould and Bill Allen were thanked for their attendance before they left the meeting. 249) Minutes of the Meeting held on 2 March 2009 i) Agreed for signing by Chairman. 250) Declarations of Interest i) None on matters to be discussed. Signed ……………………………………….. Date ………………………………………….. 251) Maximising Access and understanding for all sectors of society i) DNPA has set a target to develop, improve and market 20 kilometres of routes for people with special needs. Kevin Chamberlain asked if there was any money available for this wide ranging project. Andrew Watson confirmed that the grant from Devon County Council for maintaining public rights of way has been increased by 50% and that improvements could be funded as part of the ongoing maintenance of routes. ii) Joanna Radford asked if the intention was to develop existing routes and make bridleways easier to use for the disabled, routes should be easy for all users not just one targeted type of user which could be detrimental for other users. iii) New routes could also be created through access agreements. iv) Sam Whittlesea pointed out that drainage ditches along the route from Princetown to Nuns Cross make it difficult for users. Rob Steemson confirmed that this route is a high priority and site meetings to discuss improvements have already taken place. v) DNPA will be looking at its own assets and making sure that there is money available to address any issues. Bill Robertson is concerned that a large amount of money spent on improving access for disabled users means that less money is available for maintaining routes for other users, however Andrew Watson stated that improvements for disabled use generally benefit all users. vi) Elizabeth Kitson is concerned that Dartmoor does not develop into a theme park, it should be accepted that some users may find it difficult to access some areas, although reasonable adjustments should be made where possible. vii) Kevin Chamberlain stated that the target should not be considered in isolation, needs of local communities should be taken in to account by improving local paths before those on the high moor. viii)Anna Baness talked about an aspiration for a circular disabled use route form Princetown to Burrator and back via Nuns Cross. The road crossing at Peek Hill is an issue, improvements in the area are complicated by the number of landowners. There is also an intention to look at the tracks around Okehampton Camp. ix) Andrew Watson asked members to forward any ideas they may have for improvements. 252) PRoW Update i) A public enquiry into the proposed PRoW changes at Lower Lowton will be held over 2 days in November. ii) The temporary closure at Shipley Bridge is ongoing, work has been agreed however there is no agreement as to who should meet the cost of the work. iii) Lydford 41, new owners are turning horse riders away from this footpath which has been customarily used by local riders for many years. Evidence is being gathered to submit to DCC in support of a claim for an upgrade of the route. iv) Discussion regarding the diversion of the bridleway over Fox Tor mire are being reopened. Informal consultation will be conducted with user groups. Signed ……………………………………….. Date ………………………………………….. v) DCC have decided that there is enough evidence to create routes at Vixen Tor, which will link to existing rights of way. Consultation will be carried out when the orders are made. 253) Action for Access i) DNPA held a meeting with Natural England. A project will be established to scope out the potential for improving or increasing access through HLS scheme payments. ii) Colin Jones stated that the process for access improvement is not as complicated as the HLS scheme. 254) Performance Indicators i) Survey forms for the rights of way have been changed, partly as a result of comments in the ranger review. ii) Random surveys will be carried out in May and November to give a 10% sample. 255) Current consultations i) Members discussed the Natural England consultation on Guidance to Relevant Authorities. Members agreed that it was an issue on which DAF should have a say, and a sub group was established to consider the response. All members were asked to look at the consultation (which is available on line) and forward any comments to the Secretary by Friday 26 June. The sub group will meet at Parke on 2 July, at 9.30. members of the sub group are Patrick Watson, Clare Boughey, Joanna Radford, Simon Booty and Sam Whittlesea. Further meetings in 2009 will be held on – Tuesday 1 September, Tuesday 1 December Signed ……………………………………….. Date …………………………………………..
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