EAST SUSSEX LOCAL ACCESS FORUM
The seventh meeting of the Forum was held at Crowborough Beacon Golf Club on 10 November 2004
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
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
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
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
.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
.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.
12.1 Tim C thanked all for their contributions and closed the meeting.