Newsletter autumn 2014

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New Footpath at Groby

New Footpath at Groby

New footpath at Groby.

 

The Leicestershire Ramblers perseverance over many years persuaded an Inspector at a local inquiry earlier this year to approve this footpath. The footpath proceeds along the access drive to 53a, Markfield Road and extends for 235 metres to Forest View (adjacent Martinshaw Primary school).

 

Lower down Markfield Road towards the church, footpath R34 provides access under the Groby By-Pass and on towards Groby Pool. These combined footpaths will afford walkers a different approach in gaining access to Martinshaw Woods.

 

Claim for new link footpath at Anstey

Member John H of Anstey advised our Association earlier this year, of his claim for a link footpath in the Parish of Anstey. He has walked the route for a period in excess of forty years. Part of the route incorporates the track leaving Anstey Lane proceeding in a northerly direction to Anstey High Leys Farm. The respective grid references are SK537079 and SK537086.

Can you help claim for path near Anstey?

Can you help claim for path near Anstey?

Following submission for this link to be included on the Definitive Map of Rights of Way, a reply has been received to the effect the matter cannot proceed unless additional user evidence forms by members of the public are completed.

If you know the claimed link and have walked it unchallenged for a period in excess of twenty years, then your evidence would support this claim. Please contact our Secretary if you can assist in Mr. H’s claim. The map shows the route A-B claimed by John.

East Midlands Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

A company is applying for a development consent order to authorise the construction, operation and maintenance of a rail freight interchange and warehousing with highway works on land in the vicinity of Junction 24 of the M1 to the north of East Midlands Airport, south of Lockington and Hemington and to the east of Castle Donington.

The consent order if successful will considerably alter the rights of way network. Surprisingly a good deal of attention has been devoted to public access. I had to attend County Hall to obtain a comprehensive map outlining the proposals and will bring this to the Annual General Meeting in February 2015 for members to study. The links will be maintained between Castle Donington and Kegworth and in particular a new bridleway has been planned.

You can view the full details on the project website, www.eastmidlandsgateway.co.uk

Brian J

LFA History -The Minute Book

When I volunteered to take on the job of recording the minutes at LFA committee minutes little did I think that I would still be doing it almost ten years later. I was taking over from Diana Davidson who was still recording the minutes by hand in a large bound ledger. Not wishing to do this I started to use my computer and have been collecting these minutes ever since in loose leaf binders. That Minute Book, along with others back to 1887, is now lodged at the Wigston Record Office where it can be consulted.

Some time ago Heather had the bright idea that these later minutes should also be bound. The committee agreed that for this we could use money that has been donated to LFA rather than just putting this money into the general fund. The binding has been done by the University of Leicester Print Shop. This volume covers the minutes from 2006 to 2011 and was ready for the committee to see at a recent meeting. It will eventually be lodged in the Record Office. The minutes from 2012-2015 will be similarly bound when that time is completed. I am hoping that by then I will be able hand over the position of Minutes Secretary. If anyone feels they would like to take over this interesting and very rewarding job perhaps they could contact me. I would be happy to talk them through what is involved.

Jennifer M 

What did the Law do for us? – Rights of Way Act 1990

Occupiers of land are permitted under section 134 of the Highways Act 1980 to plough footpaths and bridleways that run across arable land. The right to plough or otherwise disturb the surface of a path is subject to the path being reinstated for public use.

Excellent cross field path compliance in Leicestershire

Excellent cross field path compliance in Leicestershire

The 1980 Act failed to make clear when and how paths should be reinstated so the 1990 Act clarifies the requirements by setting the width for a footpath at 1 metre minimum or for a bridleway 2 metres minimum. After the initial ploughing or other cultivation, carried out in connection with sowing a crop, the occupier is allowed 14 days to reinstate the path surface and for a second or subsequent disturbance it must be reinstated within 24 hours.

The path should also be apparent on the ground so when any crop, other than grass, emerges the occupier must ensure that the line of the path through the crop is indicated to at least the minimum width and prevent the crop from encroaching within this width. It is unlikely that the tramping of many public feet will meet this requirement.

Byways open to all traffic (BOATs) and restricted byways may not be ploughed, nor may footpaths and bridleways that run along the edges of a field (headland paths). The minimum width of headland paths is footpaths 1.5 metres, bridleways 3 metres and other highways (including byways and restricted byways) 3 metres. If we find paths that do not meet these requirements we should report them to our Obstructions Secretary or LCC.

Rural Payments Agency (RPA)

Cross Compliance and Area Payments. Good news or bad? I fear to investigate too deeply in this mine field of EU subsidies, but it would appear that there could be some good news for walkers. I had a comment from an LCC officer that continued failure to reinstate a cross field path would be reported to the RPA and now I hear that the Ramblers Association is calling on the Government to allow individuals to report footpath obstructions directly to the RPA. If there is little chance of a penalty folk take risks and ignore the law. Increase the chance of getting caught with a fine or penalty and we toe the line.

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has reiterated that English farmers must maintain public rights of way or face losing EU subsidies. The UK is the fifth largest recipient of subsidies, with nearly 200,000 farmers receiving £3.3 billion in payments.

Network Rail – Crossing Closures

As you know, the LFA was formed to protect and preserve the local footpaths and open spaces. This is still our fundamental role. One piece of national legislation that particularly affects several Leicestershire footpaths and bridleways is the Government directive to reduce the accidents at railway crossings.

Clive F and I attended a meeting of The Leicestershire Local Access Forum in April to hear a presentation by Martin B , the Safety Manager Midland Region, of Network Rail. This was an informative meeting with scope for general questions only.

The presentation was on the proposals of Network Rail to reduce the number of all forms of railway crossings at ground level with a view to reducing the number of genuine accidents. This has to be done within budget constraints.

Footpath crossing the Wreak valley railway line

Footpath crossing the Wreak valley railway line

The Government has set them a national target of reducing fatal accidents to zero by 2020 and a reduction of the 6,500 crossings by 25% in the next 25 years. Over the last 10 years there have been an average of 12 accidental deaths per year, of which about 3 are pedestrians or cyclists.

To this end there will be better automatic safety measures at controlled crossings including low level obstruction sensors which will detect a fallen pedestrian. In 2017/18 after re-signalling there will be no manned signal boxes and control will be from a N.R. centre in Derby.

Within Leicestershire the Midland Main Line will be electrified in the next 5 years and the speed limit will be increased to 125 mph. The cross country route, Birmingham to Peterborough, will be 90 mph. This route to the East of Leicester, known as the Wreak Valley Route, has had all its bridges raised to allow passage of container trains. It is to become a main artery to East Coast ports. The number of passenger trains and goods trains will both double.

One of the modern criteria for a footpath crossing is that there should be clear visibility for 2000 yards either side. N.B. at 90mph 2000 yards is covered in 45 seconds. Even at half this speed with poor weather and /or poor eyesight there is little time.

A certain number of foot bridges will be constructed but at £350,000 to £400,000 they will be limited. As for bridle way bridges they cost £1.5 million upwards depending on land required.

Footpath level crossing of the railway near Syston

Footpath level crossing of the railway near Syston

We were told N.R. wished to work with all stakeholders, of which we are one, but not all could be satisfied. They are saying there is still a lot of consultation to take place. We have an interest and duty to keep as many crossings as possible open. As only some will be kept open we need to come to a common approach with other walking groups to preserve attractive circular walks and of course The Leicestershire Round. Already some farmers have given up their rights to cross the railway to their fields and accepted compensation to offset their inconvenience. In those instances support in our request for keeping the crossing open would not be forthcoming

Currently your committee is dealing with some proposed diversions and closures but unfortunately it is piecemeal and we have no overall scheme to view. We aim to monitor this closely…………………….

Neil B.

Congratulations from Martin W

To the much derided Health & Safety Executive who managed to bring a successful prosecution of the Stanford on Soar bull and cattle keeper.

To LFA member Roy Shakespeare for organising and collecting an impressive petition for Leicester to keep King Richard III – this invaluable help achieved success.

Have you walked the Leicestershire Round?

A new stock of sew on badges has been purchased so if you don’t have one, the old one is tatty or the rucksack is in need of renewal get a badge now. Send s.a.e and £2.50 to LFA at Gamekeepers Lodge, 11 London Road, Great Glen, LE8 9DJ

Looking Ahead

At the last AGM Judy S and her team from the W.I. produced their appetising lunches as usual which they had done for a number of years. All good things must come to an end and those of you who attended will know it was the end of an era. We established that attendees came not only for the business but also the lunch, meeting friends and walks.

Although February 2015 seems a long time away this is the last newsletter this year and in order to organise ourselves properly we need to decide on lunch arrangements well in advance. Feelers were put out to outside caterers who may have been able to cater at an acceptable price but nothing was forthcoming.

We therefore come back to catering for ourselves. We hope to set up a sub-committee to decide what is feasible and co-ordinate matters. It will not be possible to duplicate Judy’s menu which was a monumental effort. At the time of writing nothing is decided but I am using this opportunity to put you in the picture. The sub committee will certainly need help at committee stage and practical help close to and at the AGM. Requests for particular help will come through walk organisers/leaders and we trust there will be a positive response.

Neil B

Summer Walks Programme – Analysed

Sad it may be but I’ve plotted on a map the start point of all LFA walks from the summer 2014 programme (excluding Tuesday long walks because details are not available). There were 26 walks each on Tuesday, Wednesday (short plus long), Thursday and Saturday, a total of 130 walks. Add to that 14 mid summer Monday evening walks and thirteen Tuesday long walks, a grand total of 157 walks. I have been surprised by the variety and spread of the walks. It is difficult to show the maps in printed form so an illustrated report can be found on our website.

Each group has spread walks around Leicestershire and all have wandered occasionally into adjoining counties. Looking at the combined picture, LFA walks have shunned Melton district, north east of the A606. Two other areas also show neglect, the M1 corridor north of Markfield and to the far west the villages south of Ashby have been ignored. One group totally ignored north west Leicestershire.

On the positive side I was surprised to see both the Tuesday and Saturday groups had walks starting from North Kilworth, an area I have recently discovered to be a bit barren of footpaths. Jim M has long complained about a path from Bitteswell that stopped abruptly at Magna Park but a recent link has improved things, so well done Jane D for putting on a walk from this pretty village.

Membership Trends

members

  • Annual reports going back to 2006 reveal membership numbers for both members and parish councils to be as shown above.
  • The trend in member numbers has been consistently upwards in the years up to 2013, albeit in varying numbers ranging from 3 in 2008 to 33 in 2009.
  • For the first time since 2006 we appear to be heading for a net reduction in membership this year, with a drop of 42 (9 resignations including deaths plus 33 non-renewals) against 24 new members, giving a net reduction of 18. Although there is still plenty of time for further new members to join us. It should be said that attendance numbers on the walks are holding up, and even increasing.
  • The decline is due to the lower number of new members, which was 45 in 2013. If we do have a drop in 2014 it will be in line with the RA who have reported “The numbers of people walking in the UK is steadily rising but I am afraid our membership is slowly ebbing away”
  • Parish council membership has declined steadily over the same period, probably due to financial cut-backs at all levels of local government.
  • Despite these small reductions we are still in a very healthy financial position, with the accounts heading for a surplus in the region of £1,000 by the end of the year.

Thinking of a walking holiday for 2015?

walk-partnership1Don’t forget if you book with Ramblers Holidays please mention you are an LFA member so that we receive the Partnership donation (£10 for UK, £20 for Europe, £30 for long haul; per person).

For more information visit

http://www.ramblersholidays.co.uk/page/thewalkingpartnership

The National Forest Way

Map of The National Forest Way

Map of The National Forest Way

Launched after 5 years of planning. It Links the National Arboretum at Alrewas Staffordshire with Beacon Hill at Woodhouse Eaves. The route is 75 miles and a bit like the Robin Hood Way in Nottinghamshire it twists and turns like a drunken sailor. I know from bitter experience that the National Arboretum is not a walker friendly location, being trapped alongside the A38, railway and rivers Trent and Tame there are very limited access points. It’s a shame they haven’t been able to use Mythaholme Bridge over the Trent, it cost £130,000 in 2004 and still has no footpaths linking to it. I noted new waymarks recently on the Ivanhoe Way between Staunton Harold and Ashby de la Zouch and thought perhaps that route had been renamed ‘National Forest Way’ but it appears it uses the same paths, unfortunate we couldn’t have waymarks showing both routes. I’m not impressed.

See http://www.nationalforestway.co.uk/ for more information.

Cross Britain Way

Tim Bruton left a message on our website, “I am the culprit! My wife and I have put the Cross Britain Way together over the past five years, with the blessing of the six English Counties involved I may add, and we waymarked the whole route in May and June. I would be happy to tell you more if you want to contact me.” I’ve tried but had no reply (Ed)

A Google search offers the following information from the Macmillan Way and Barmouth Town Council websites:

From Boston, the ‘Cross Britain Way’ heads westwards through middle England. Across the Lincolnshire Fens, through the Vale of Belvoir and the National Forest. After the canals of South Staffordshire it turns south-west across Cannock Chase and into East Shropshire, passing through Iron Bridge Gorge before heading into the Shropshire Hills. Leaving England behind it crosses the rolling green hills of mid Wales and into the Berwyn Mountains. The final stretch is through Snowdonia before reaching journeys end at Barmouth. From the minutes of Barmouth Town Council 25th March 2014: ‘Correspondence …Cross Britain Way – best place for end of walk marker Harbour Masters Office – forward letter to Barry Davies for his response.’

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