Venue: Function Room, Fifth Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell. View directions
Contact: Amanda Roden 01344 352253
The minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2014 were agreed as a correct record.
There had been a reorganisation of the ranger/warden functions at The Crown Estate. They now had their own visitor management scheme which included a leaflet aimed at promoting responsible dog walking. The Borough Council would continue to promote their Dog Walking Code of Conduct leaflet at their parks and countryside sites and at locations such as libraries but not at The Crown Estate.
Richard Walton was due to meet with Gail Siddall, Team Manager Environmental Protection on the 9 October 2014 in relation to the issue of fly-tipped rubbish on private roads where Byways (Public Rights of Way) were running over the top of them.
The Borough Council could clear flytipping or serve notice to the landowner but were more likely to clear the rubbish. There had been a prosecution and fine recently and the possibility of cameras on site was being considered.
Footpath 15 was referred to in the minutes of the previous meeting (Minute 20, page 5); this needed to be referred to as Bracknell Footpath 15 in Jennett’s Park.
Hugh, Mike and Peter were interested in joining Huddle and receiving training. Sharon would like to be removed from Huddle. Rose would look into this.
(Action: Rose Wicks)
Membership and Recruitment
Innes McEwan had left his role within Syngenta and had notified of his intent to step down as a member of Bracknell Forest LCAF (Local Countryside Access Forum). Innes had not been replaced at Syngenta as yet but communication would be kept open with Syngenta to see if his replacement would like to be a member of the Bracknell Forest LCAF.
Bracknell Forest LCAF currently had nine members and the Local Access Forums (England) Regulations 2007 stated that Local Access Forums needed a minimum of ten members. It would be useful to have a member to represent disability groups/individuals.
Recruitment for the Bracknell Forest LCAF would continue to be promoted and a new poster had been designed using guidance from a case study by Leicestershire County Council, who had been successful in recruiting people for their LCAF.
Any suggestions regarding recruitment should be forwarded to Rose Wicks. Suggestions by Forum Members about where recruitment to Bracknell Forest LCAF could be publicised included church notice boards, free papers, individual local newsletters such as the Warfield Wren and the Binfield Beacon. Rose would e-mail a copy of the new recruitment poster to Forum Members for comments.
· Natural England’s LAF Engagement Plan
· Update on LAF meetings/conferences
· Consultations (dog walking advice guide, CAP reform)
Natural England (NE) had a Local Access Forum (LAF) Engagement Plan but its statutory role in relation to LAFs was limited to receiving copies of LAF annual reports and being notified of changes made to forum arrangements and changes in the Secretary. NE welcomed advice from LAFs.
There was a National Conference held in Bristol on 4 February 2015. Forum Members from Bracknell Forest LCAF were unable to attend and officers were not allowed to attend on behalf of LAFs. Presentations and workshops at the conference included: The Deregulation Bill (DEFRA), how LAFs could access lottery Grants (Big Lottery Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund), rail crossings (Network Rail), Paths in Crisis Report (Ramblers Association), access and land managers (The Country Landowners Association), unrecorded Rights of Way and farmland (The National Farmers Union), Local Enterprise Partnerships and Local Nature Partnerships (Natural England), access for all (New Forest LAF), LAF effectiveness case study (Leicestershire County Council), the ‘Doggy Do Code’ and other initiatives for promoting responsible dog ownership (New Forest LAF, and Natural England & Dorset Dogs).
The Deregulation Bill was in the process of being reformed and the aim was to simplify it. Landowners would usually be stopped for erecting gates if they caused an obstruction; now landowners would need to apply to erect gates.
A South East Local Access Forum Conference was held on 20 May 2014, with information available on Huddle. A South East Officers meeting was due to take place today and there would be feedback on this at the next meeting of the Bracknell Forest LCAF. Neighbouring LAF meetings took place if Forum members were interested in attending these.
Officers thanked Forum members for their input on the Dog Walking Advice Guide consultation, which had been submitted to Natural England and National Resource Wales. The advice guide focused upon engaging with dog walkers and feedback raised the point that there was an opportunity to make dog walkers more aware of their legal responsibilities in relation to dog ownership (for example, it would be a legal requirement for dogs to be chipped from 2016). It was queried how other countries managed this process. Sharon raised the point that by law, horses’ were required to have passports, but the difficultly was in enforcing these. For example, owners did not always notify the relevant authority when they had sold a horse.
In their Dog Walking Code of Conduct, Bracknell Forest Council (BFC) tried to achieve a balance between positively engaging dog walkers whilst pointing out the consequences to dog walkers for failing to fulfil their legal responsibilities, for example, fixed penalty notices could be given to owners who failed to pick up after their dog had fouled. Some dog walkers’ pledge forms, which were part of the updated leaflet, had been returned by dog walkers.
The military had closed off some areas of land to avoid dog fouling on their land. Officers would see which approach worked best with dog walkers; it was suggested that signs ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Access Improvement Works
· PROW maintenance
· S106 funded projects – quality improvement works to parks and open spaces
· SANGs improvements
Public Rights of Way (PROW)
The South East Berkshire Ramblers continued their good work to improve the accessibility of PROW by replacing stiles with new accessible kissing gates. Sections of PROW had been outlined where the paths would benefit from the older ‘step over’ or ‘squeeze’ stiles being replaced with new metal or wooden kissing gates. If a stile or gate was no longer needed it would be taken out and medium mobility kissing gates were used where possible; four foot wide cattle grids were another suggestion. Work was undertaken to the principle of least restrictive access, according to actions in the Bracknell Forest Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
These gates had been funded by the Ramblers Association and installed by Bracknell Forest Council and volunteers. New gates had been installed along Bracknell Footpath 16 (Peacock’s Meadow) and two along Binfield Footpath 6 (Wick’s Green). Further gates were due to be installed along Binfield Footpath 11 (Murrell Hill Road), Bracknell Footpath 15 (at the junction with Easthampstead Park Driveway), and a further wooden gate at Binfield Footpath 16, replacing the tight kissing gate off Peacock Lane.
The Forum thanked the South East Berkshire Ramblers for their support and volunteering.
At Winkfield Footpath 4, work was being undertaken with the land owners in cooperation with Planners Farm to mitigate seasonal flooding. Surfacing and drainage works would see a new corrugated pipe installed along the path, which would be covered with ‘reject’ stone. The area would be inspected after to see whether a further top surface needed to be funded (crushed concrete and plannings).
At Crowthorne Footpath 4, which ran alongside Edgbarrow School, the surface of the footpath had been raised to help mitigate seasonal flooding. The boardwalk at Wildmoor Heath (Sandhurst Footpath 14) had also been extended in sections where it became boggy underfoot.
At the Devil’s Highway, there had been a short section of surface improvements to the Restricted Byway which led up from Bracknell Road to the Forestry Commission car park. This was the second time the surface had been re-laid after the first attempt proved unsuccessful due to adverse weather conditions. This time, the drier weather had allowed the surface to settle and bind well.
Two new interpretation panels had been produced in partnership with the Forestry Commission and were to be installed near Devil’s Highway and Muzzies roundabout. This was part of mitigation measures to provide ‘educational’ signage at key access points into the forest (SPA). It was suggested that signs would be useful to tell people, for example, where the nearest café was. Bracknell Forest Council was improving its mobile website.
Section 106 funded quality improvements to parks and open spaces
Section 106 funding was to be used for longer term projects and pathways, and the benefits needed to be demonstrated to the land owner. Permissive routes could be undertaken but the risks would need to be assessed, as with short term access routes for a matter of days or weeks, the developer ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Access and Wildlife
· Local Nature Partnership
· Bracknell Forest Biodiversity Action Plan
· Grazing projects – wildflower conservation
Dan Carpenter, Biodiversity Officer at BFC updated the Forum on the Local Nature Partnership, Bracknell Forest Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), and grazing projects including wildflower conservation.
The Berkshire Local Nature Partnership (LNP) was established in 2012 and an annual meeting had been held recently on 27 September 2014 with representatives from businesses, local authorities, and the NHS. The LNP championed access to the natural environment and made sure it was considered as part of developments. Further information was available on the website http://www.berkshirelnp.org/ and membership was free for individuals or as part of an organisation. The LNP were developing guiding principles for local planning documents, which was a partnership document that detailed how aims for wildlife in Berkshire, including access to nature, would be delivered.
Bracknell Forest Council had its own local Biodiversity Action Plan. There was a target to promote wildlife projects and low intensity grazing to horse owners, to maximise the value of horse paddocks for wildlife. Low intensity grazing benefitted butterflies, amongst others, and projects horse owners could do voluntarily were promoted. Hannah Marsh at the British Horse Society was the contact for the Bracknell Forest area. The aim was to see if some communications could be included in relevant leaflets or websites. It was suggested that tack shops, delivery yards and polo yards were good places to find horse owners. Polo yards included Royal Berkshire, Winkfield and Crouch Farm. Horse and field usage was dominated by polo players in the Bracknell area.
There were specific targets in the local BAP for hedgerows and bird boxes and different types and sizes of bird boxes to encourage different birds to use them. If a leaflet was produced, copies would be circulated to the Bracknell Forest LCAF.
LCAF Annual Report
Officers thanked Forum members who submitted feedback for the LCAF Annual Report. The Annual Review Form for the period April 2013 to March 2014 was submitted to Natural England and the next one was due at the end of June 2015.
The 2013 Annual Report was due to be published in October and ideas were sought for the 2014 report.
It was suggested that the quality improvement works to parks and countryside sites and PROW should be well publicised. Sharon thanked officers for filling in the pot holes on Hawthorne Lane.
Please bring ideas for future visits.
Graham Pockett was thanked for leading a site visit to Jennett’s Park where members got to see diverted Bracknell Footpath 15 and new footpath links, and visit Peacock Meadows and Tarman's Copse which were due to be transferred across to BFC ownership. The site visit was also combined with a visit to West Garden Copse and Wykery Copse, the latter being a SSSI woodland with managed access. Forum members were thanked for attending the site visit.
Suggested future site visits included a visit to Broadmoor/ Foresters Way and the impact of new hospital access road to the PROW network. Swinley Forest was another suggestion as there was a new pipeline being installed by south east water and Natural England were involved in relation to Newt management. John Deakin would be contacted at The Crown Estate to see if this was possible.
(Action: Rose Wicks / Graham Pockett)
Changes to regulations for Deposits of Statement and other items
Impact of the pipeline through Swinley Forest
Preparations were being made to the site including installing reptile and amphibian fences, species translocation, for example, Wintergreen (group of plants that remained green throughout the winter), and enabling tree works.
The objection regarding the potential impact on Caesar’s Camp, which was an Iron Age hill fort and Scheduled Monument, had been withdrawn as vehicles were keeping within the red line haulage route.
Graham Pockett reported that there had been heavy damage of the surface of Hawthorne Lane as the byway had been used as a through route. Windsor and Maidenhead were also concerned about this matter and had produced a consultation document for their councillors. It was suggested that Bracknell Forest could do one for local councillors and residents.
Sharon Holt mentioned Berry Lane and that farms were accessing their fields from gates at the bottom. It was queried whether the Forum were in favour of having a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) for Hawthorne Lane in a joint project with Windsor and Maidenhead to close the middle part of the Byway to vehicular access. Berry Lane could possibly be considered as well.
Section 31(6) of the Highway Act 1980 allowed for landowners to acknowledge the existence of PROW which crossed their land and to prevent new PROW being created by 'presumed dedication'. A Deposited Statement and Declaration would not prevent PROW being confirmed by other means, for example, historical evidence. There were new regulations in relation to Deposits of Statement and to remain valid a Declaration had to be submitted every 20 years. Local authorities needed to post public notices on site and online for 60 days and could now charge fees.
Reports from Members round the table
Councillor Brossard mentioned that planning permission had been given for Lapland UK to operate at Swinley Forest and last year’s event had been successful. A new planning application had been submitted this year for Lapland UK and new times had been requested to operate throughout the day, so that there was not a closure period between 1pm and 3.30pm. Lapland UK had been good for the economy in 2013 with hotel bookings and jobs created. The traffic congestion had been well managed last year.
Peter Radband asked about unmanned railway crossings in the borough. Richard Walton and Dan Carpenter were due to have a site visit with Network Rail and could ask them for a contact regarding this. Rose Wicks would provide Peter with information from the last Annual LAF conference where Network Rail gave a talk on rail crossings.
(Action: Richard Walton / Dan Carpenter / Rose Wicks)
Sharon Holt mentioned Warfield Bridleway 25 and queried whether Ascot Road to Jealotts Hill was owned by Syngenta or Bracknell Forest Council. Sharon suggested that this be upgraded to permissive access and this would be queried with Syngenta.
(Action: Graham Pockett)
Date of Next Meeting
Tuesday 3 March 2015, 7pm, Function Room, 5th Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell
Tuesday 3 March 2015, 7pm, Function Room, 5th Floor, Easthampstead House, Town Square, Bracknell