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EAST SUSSEX LOCAL ACCESS FORUM The seventh meeting of the Forum was held at Crowborough Beacon Golf Club on 10 November 2004 at 2pm. Present Members: Tim Calcutt; Stephen Turner; Major Goulden; Tony Kempster; Malcolm McDonnell; Matthew Lock; Tony Smith; Nicola Cramond; Tim Locke; Sarah Robinson, Leo Hickish, Edward Stenhouse. Non-Members: Andrew Whitnall (Secretary to the Forum); Vicky Pannell (minutes) Observers: Chris Walker – ESCC Assistant Director (Transport & Environment) Nigel Kitchener – ESCC Rights of Way & Countryside Manager Steve Diserens - ESCC Countryside Access Officer Valerie Woodifield – Countryside Agency Nicola Harper – Countryside Agency Keith Tyrell – South Downs Access Forum Officer Gill Gillies – Sussex Police Authority John Bennett – Crowborough Beacon Golf Club Graham Midmer – Crowborough Beacon Golf Club Public: Four 1. WELCOME AND APOLOGIES 12.1 Tim C welcomed all to the meeting. 12.2 Andrew W gave apologies for absence from John Freeman who has had to resign from the Forum due to ill health. The County Council will now seek to recruit a new member with disabled interests. Tim C asked Andrew W to write to John Freeman thanking him for his work on the Forum. **ACTION – Andrew W** 1. MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING 12.3 Minutes passed as an accurate record of the last meeting. 1. MATTERS ARISING AND ACTION 3.1 Paragraph 2.1: Edward S replaced with Tony S in paragraph 4.1 of the minutes for the AGM. Paragraph 3.1: See Item 8. Paragraph 5.9: See Item 5. Paragraph 6.2: The Forum’s comments on the restriction at Pippingford Park were passed onto the Countryside Agency. However, see Item 7. Paragraph 9.3: The LTP officers have been asked to make a presentation on the LTP at the meeting in March where the Forum will also be asked to comment on the next LTP. Paragraph 11.3: Due to a very full agenda this item has been postponed. 2. REPORT ON ‘QUICK WINS’ 12.4 Andrew W said that the signposting project at Sedlescombe has been completed. Twelve new signposts have been erected around the parish showing information such as the parish name, path name and number and destination. Tony K asked if the distances were in miles or kilometres. Andrew W said that signs legally have to be in miles. 12.5 Andrew W reported that the County Ecologist has been asked to comment on the work planned on the eastern end of the proposed B2116 Horse Route prior to a small consultation with various interested parties. Unfortunately a number of Badger sets have been found on this section and the County Council is now looking at how best to proceed. Nicola C said that several horses were stabled nearby that would use that route. Andrew W said that the County Council will look at possible alternatives. **ACTION – Andrew W** 1. MEMBERS IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS 12.1 Tim C brought the Forum’s attention to the report on the suggestions for improvement projects [see Doc 07-1] and asked Nigel K and Steve D to comment on each project. 12.2 Steve D commented on the first project (cycling and walking routes out of Lewes) saying that this was really a matter for the Sussex Downs Conservation Board (SDCB) as they manage most of the access around Lewes. Improvement in this area would be achievable in cooperation with SDCB. **ACTION – Andrew W** 12.3 Nigel K said the second project (resiting of a gate at Ashburnham) might be easily achievable with the landowner’s cooperation. **ACTION – Nigel K** 12.4 Nigel K said that the third project (new bridleway link at Sussex House Farm) could be achievable as long as a route can be found that is agreeable to all concerned. **ACTION – Nigel K** 12.5 Nigel K said that the fourth project (new footpath from River Ouse to Laughton) was more likely to be a long term project requiring negotiation with landowners. Steve D said that he was concerned that the section between Glynde and Laughton could disturb an area which is a very good habitat for birds. The section between the Ouse and Glynde wouldn’t be as sensitive. Malcolm M said he would be happy for just the shorter route from the Ouse to Glynde to be considered. Sarah R said the levels might be allowed to get wetter in future years. Steve D added that this falls within the Sussex Downs Conservation Board’s area and they would need to be involved. Tim C asked for a plan of the route. **ACTION – Andrew W & Malcolm M** 12.6 Sarah R said that the fifth project (removal of tree limb) could be resolved by the land agents Strutt & Parker but there was a short length of drainage work needed. Nigel K said he would look at what needed to be done. **ACTION – Nigel K** 12.7 Nigel K said that the sixth project (repair of Spring Steps, Winchelsea) requires an engineer to inspect them and report on the options. Stephen T said that people could use the steps to access the railway station and 1066 Country Walk from the town. Tim C asked for the County Council to prepare an engineers report on the steps to see if they are safe to be open to the public and can be repaired in future. **ACTION – Chris W/Nigel K** 12.8 Nigel K said that the seventh project (new byway at Beddingham) would be very difficult to achieve in the current climate but might be possible to negotiate a bridleway. Tony K said that this route should be reinstated. Tim C asked for a plan of the routes around the area to see how a new path would link with the rest of the network. **ACTION – Andrew W** 6. RIGHTS OF WAY IMPROVEMENT PLAN 12.1 Andrew W said he had attended a recent meeting of South East area Rights of Way Improvement Plan officers. At that meeting it was clear that the vast majority of authorities are at a similar point in the development of their Plans. One exception was Hampshire, which was a pilot authority and has divided their county into seven areas. They have produced draft Plans for two areas and are at the early stages on two more Plans but have not yet begun working on the final three area Plans. West Sussex County Council has revised its timetable and will not now be producing a Plan in time to fit in with their Local Transport Plan in summer 2005. Andrew W is currently looking at ways to consult with users and parish councils used by West Sussex and Kent County Councils. Wealden District Council has produced a walking questionnaire that could provide useful information for the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. 12.2 Malcolm M asked if Andrew W was aware of the West Sussex proposal for a Sussex Coastal Path. Andrew W said he was aware of it. 12.3 Nicola C asked about the Forum’s role in developing the Rights of Way Improvement Plan. Andrew W said that the Forum is the main body the County Council consults with and the Forum has already done work on priorities for the Plan. 12.4 Stephen Turner asked about consultation with parish councils. Andrew W said that there will be consultation with parishes and interested parties in the near future. 12.5 Leo Hickish asked if the County Council already had a ‘wish list’ of things it knows need to be done. Nigel K said that the County Council was aware of many things that need to be done and that user groups have asked for. Nigel K said that the Rights of Way Improvement Plan was about improving the network by creating new links, upgrading routes, etc. it wasn’t about existing maintenance responsibilities. 12.6 Tim C asked if the County Council could inform the Forum on relevant ideas for improvements that it is already aware of. **ACTION – Andrew W** 7. ACCESS TO OPEN COUNTRY AND COMMON LAND .1 Andrew W referred the members of the Forum to the Countryside Agency consultation on the proposal to restrict all public access to the Sussex Police Training Centre at Ashdown Forest [see Doc 07-2] and introduced Gill Gillies from the Sussex Police Authority to answer any questions about the site. Tim C invited Gill G to summarise the activities that took place on the site. Gill G explained that the site was a unique training area for the Police which was used for dog training and exercising, firearms training, public order training and camouflage training. Ponies were occasionally grazed on the site but not suckler cows as stated in the consultation. [NB. The consultation has since been altered omitting the reference to suckler cows]. Tim C confirmed that the Forum was happy to agree with the recommendation in the consultation. **ACTION – Andrew W** .2 Andrew W updated the Forum on the restriction on dogs at Pippingford Park discussed at the last meeting. The Ministry of Defence, who occasionally use the site for training purposes, have now excluded all public access to this site under section 28 of the Countryside & Rights of Way Act. .3 Andrew W informed the Forum that Access Land was formally launched on Sunday 19 September in the North West. The official launch in the South East took place on Monday 20 September at St James's Montefiore Cricket Club at Ditchling after the intended location of Ditchling Beacon had to be abandoned due to high winds. The launch was well attended despite the poor weather and speakers included Richard Wakeford (Chief Executive of the Countryside Agency), Cllr Pat Drake (Mayor of Brighton & Hove) and Peter Duncan (Chief Scout). Peter Duncan then led many of those attending the event and some local Scouts in kite flying. The Access Land is now shown on new Ordnance Survey Explorer Series maps. .4 Andrew W informed the Forum that the Sussex Downs Conservation Board has completed its part of the bid for funding works to implement access to designated access land. This will cover the vast majority of access land in East Sussex. Tim C invited Keith T to report. .5 Keith T referred to the Access Management Grant Scheme Report [see Doc 07-4] and explained the procedure that the Sussex Downs Conservation Board along with East Sussex and West Sussex County Councils had used to make a bid to the Countryside Agency for funding. .6 Edward S asked if the County Council are legally required to do this work. Keith T said they were not and that the work is prioritised depending on the amount of funding available. .7 Edward S asked if there had been any problems such as forced access and was the access land advertised in East Sussex. Keith T said that he was unaware of any problems and Andrew W said the new Ordnance Survey maps were available from 19 September showing the access land and there is a dedicated Countryside Agency website for access land. .8 Andrew W said that the County Council was still waiting to hear from the Countryside Agency on how and when the Common Land in East Sussex was going to be added to the access maps. 7. RIGHTS OF WAY BUDGET .1 Chris W presented a paper on the Rights of Way budget [see Doc 07-3] and explained that the county’s Best Value Performance Indicator in comparison with the 33 other county councils was good and showed that 69% of paths in the county were easy to use by the public. Nigel K explained the process of inspecting paths used to get the BVPI figures. Each year 5% of the network is randomly selected and surveyed in two halves, 2.5% in the spring and 2.5% in the autumn. Something as minor as a missing signpost will fail a path. Chris W added that the rural regeneration public service agreement has added an extra £1.5 million over three years to rights of way work which will improve about 20% of the rights of way network. .2 Malcolm M said that contrary to the BVPI figures the general standard of paths in the county was low. .3 Matthew L said that East Sussex is receiving less money from central Government but we are still doing well. Tony Reid put Environment above Passenger Transport in his priorities for the Department and that is being maintained. .4 Chris W said that the area Rights of Way Officers at East Sussex are responsible for about 500 miles of rights of way each compared to the national average of about 250 miles per officer. .5 Edward S asked how much work is having to be spent on complying with Government rules rather than work on the ground. .6 Nigel K said that a lot of that work is necessary. An example being the parish and volunteer work which, with the health and safety requirements, the County Council had to employ someone to manage the whole scheme and that person has a huge workload. 7. REPORT ON SOUTH DOWNS ACCESS FORUM 9.1 As Leo H did not attend the last meeting Keith T was asked to report but had nothing to add to what he said under item 7 except that the AGM of the South Downs Access Forum will be held at 7pm on Tuesday 7 December at Billingshurst Village Hall, West Sussex. 10. ITEMS FOR AGENDA FOR NEXT MEETING .1 Tim C asked for an update on the Rights of Way budget for 2005/06. **ACTION – Chris W** .2 Stephen T asked for the postponed item on maintenance of roadside footways to be included. **ACTION – Andrew W** .3 John Bennett of Crowborough Beacon Golf Club raised the question of dog fouling within 100-200 yards of car parks on Ashdown Forest and Country Parks and wondered if there could be a future discussion on solutions. **ACTION – Andrew W** .4 Andrew W confirmed that the next meeting was at 2pm on Wednesday 9 March 2005 at Sedlescombe Village Hall, with lunch at 1pm. 10. ANY OTHER BUSINESS .1 Tony K mentioned that motor vehicle user volunteers were unable to undertake work on ‘Green Lane Day’ to help improve a right of way as the County Council had not found them an appropriate path to work on. Nigel K said that this was very regrettable but was down to the heavy workload of the officer concerned. 12. CLOSE 12.1 Tim C thanked all for their contributions and closed the meeting.
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