AGM Minutes_9 November 2019 fin pdf.pdf AGM Minutes_9 November 2019 fin pdf.pdf
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Chairman's Annual Report for 2020

This past year has been an unusual year for us as it was dominated by the coronavirus pandemic. It was our intention to run a full programme of walks with at least one walk each weekend and some shorter walks on Tuesdays and our winter and spring programme reflected this ambition. However due to government regulations and the nationwide lockdown associated with Covid-19 we were forced to suspend all group walks and social events in late March 2020. However members were still able to walk on their local footpaths with members of their own household and from a personal point of view I have never seen the paths in my village so busy. 

In September and October we were able to resume our group walks programme and meet again with our rambling friends and colleagues, attracting a number of visitors from other groups. In early November group walks were again suspended due to government regulations and at the time of writing we await approval to resume walks. 

Several members of our group elected to join the Parish Paths Adopters (PPA) scheme and took advantage of the lockdown to survey their local footpaths and update the results on the Essex area PPA database. Thanks to all those members who took part in this initiative. 

We also continued our Parish Paths Partnership (P3) working parties with our maintenance of the John Ray Walk in January and clearing a blocked footpath in Halstead this October. Unfortunately due to the lockdown we were not able to run our working party in the summer. 

Our members enjoyed their Christmas meal at the Five Bells in Colne Engaine for the second year running but other social activities were curtailed due to the lockdown. We hope to hold a group social event as soon as the regulations permit.

Finally it remains for me to thank all those who have led or participated in walks over the past year, and to those members who have helped organise social events and I look forward to your support in the coming year. 

G J Farrow

Chairman 

November 2020 

 

Membership Secretary’s Report for North West Essex Ramblers AGM

November 2020 

Our membership numbers have remained fairly static throughout this year.  We have, over the course of the year, lost a few members for various reasons, but I am pleased to say that we have gained a similar number and our latest membership figure stands at 102, exactly the same as at last year’s AGM.  Despite the difficulties encountered with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been especially pleasing to welcome some of these new members on the few walks we have been able to enjoy together. 

Janet Bugler


Publicity Officer's Report 2020

Due to the first lockdown being announced in late March we decided not to send our latest programme to local libraries and the Braintree & Witham Times as there was no certainty when walks would resume and we thought that sending out a programme when most walks were likely to be cancelled would be confusing to the general public. Instead we concentrated our efforts on online promotion via our website, facebook page and Ramblers walk finder as we are able to update these platforms at very short notice. 

Despite the pandemic traffic to our website remained broadly similar to last year with 1,046 unique visitors, 1,488 total visits and 2,844 page views. Our facebook page following increased over the year and at the time of writing we have 197 followers. We affiliated our site to Rambling Essex which features many walks and photographs of the Essex countryside although this site is not actually run by the Ramblers. However it has helped increase the profile of our own facebook page and also helped increase our following. Government regulations and guidelines relating to the pandemic are subject to change at short notice and we remain ready to adjust our publicity accordingly. 

Geoff Farrow 


Treasurer’s AGM Report for year ended 30 September 2020

Our opening bank balance was £170.72 and after credits from Ramblers Association funding, Ramblers Holidays (donation for holidays booked by our members) and refund from Essex County Council for expenditure on Working Party Equipment our closing balance was £544.86, plus £14.96 petty cash in hand.

Expenditure for the year was programme costs, AGM and Committee Meeting room hire and Working Party Equipment (refunded from ECC).

Our self-funded account  stands at £171.12.

Very little financial activity this year due to the restrictions. 

Maureen Davis


Footpath Secretaries' Report - AGM November 2020

1) Path Orders in Braintree District - summary

Alphamstone FP 12 has been extinguished, new paths have been created & FP 28 has been diverted. There has been a short diversion of Kelvedon FP4 out from under a building to the line walked for many years.  Wethersfield FPs 28 & 36 have been diverted at Valley Farm.

Earlier this year, fingerposts were still pointing to the old pre-diversion routes in Toppesfield. Have the new routes not been correctly signed - PROWs 23, 24, 25, 26, 33 & 34, FP 22 was extinguished & a new path created.

PROW diversion proposals have been consulted on around Clees Hall, Alphamstone and in Bures.  Great Bardfield Parish Council are active in discussions concerning the off-line walked routes of Great Bardfield FPs 4& 5.  Planning applications & variations continue to be made for a small development of 5 homes - Braintree & Bocking FP141 is affected.  The proposed diversion of Rivenhall FP 60 associated with the Bellway Homes development, on land to the east of Witham that was part of the Rivenhall Oaks Golf Centre, has been withdrawn.

The proposed diversion route for Earls Colne FP1 was revised to run west of the current walked line through fields that become rather soggy, to run through the tree belt on the west side of the fields where there was already a track.  It was not known at the time that this tree belt was part of the cycle route being proposed by Marks Hall Estate.  The footpath diversion proposal remains in abeyance - it is assumed that people are continuing to walk the unofficial diversion as the legal line is obstructed by buildings.  The Marks Hall cycle route was part of planning application 20/00826/FUL which was granted on 17 August 2020.  There is & was concern about the width available to accommodate both the proposed cycle route & Coggeshall FP 13 north of & through the A120 pedestrian underpass.   Essex Highways have required cyclists to dismount at the pinch points of the underpass & the historic iron bridge that Coggeshall FP12 crosses.

On a positive note, Essex Highways have constructed boardwalks on Earls Colne FP16 at the bottom of the Millenium Green and on Great Yeldham FP4.  Repairs are still awaited to the old railway sleeper boardwalk on Feering FP17.

Temporary closure Orders continue to be prevalent, with some closures continuing for several years.  This can be because of housing developments but also because bridges are out-of-repair. At present, temporary closure do not show up on any maps.  Ramblers Essex Area are not willing to post information on some of the longer term closures on the area web site.  At the recent ELAF meeting, Essex Highways undertook to see how much resource would be required to provide a simple listing of at least the longer term temporary PROW closures.

Temporary diversions are still in place at the east side of the Bellway Homes development in Halstead; of Braintree & Bocking FP 60 across the Redrow development north of Rayne Road; and of Great Notley bridleway 27 around the new BDC Horizon 120 business park.

Essex Highways PROW teams and Ramblers volunteers can deal with smaller footbridges, but bridges over 8 metres have to be referred to the Essex Highways Structures team.  Dick Nun's (aka Curds Hall) bridge over the river Blackwater, on Coggeshall FP37 between Coggeshall football ground and the Essex Way, is temporarily closed as it has been declared unsafe.  This wrought iron bridge, which was constructed in 1892 by Dick a local blacksmith, is no longer compliant with Environment Agency standards but it is an iconic local feature.  A proposed solution is that Essex Highways proceeds with the erection of a new compliant PROW bridge and Dick Nunn's bridge is reconstructed elsewhere and so is retained as a feature.  The pedestrian bridge in Halstead - not a PROW - is still closed.  Potters Hall footbridge on Great Yeldham 25 remains temporarily closed - the public footpath runs over a private bridge; currently landowner permission has not been granted to either repair the bridge or to divert the public footpath.

Just over the border in Uttlesford, the footbridge in-front of Felsted Mill CM6 3HQ continues to be temporarily closed on safety grounds [grid ref (5)671 (2)196] so there is no way across the river Chelmer between Felsted/ Little Dunmow in the north and Absol Bridge in the south.  The south end of Felsted footpath 59 also continues to be temporarily closed.  

Before leading a walk, do please check the essex highways interactive maps for PRoW changes - this IS the most up-to-date information on the legal definitive routes -  tick the assets tabs to show PRoWs (pink), tick the programme tab to show which paths are on the once/year cutting programme

https://www.essexhighways.org/transport-and-roads/interactive-maps-and-live-travel-information/Highways-Information-Map.aspx 

2) Fault reporting and long standing problems

Essex Area groups are asked to let Alan Goffee know of outstanding long term PROW problems.  Long-standing problems could be paths under reservoirs, flooded / badly rutted paths, missing finger posts, damaged bridges, overgrown & blocked paths, and any other issues that make walking difficult.  Please make sure that these faults have been reported to Essex Highways using the fault reporting system 

https://www.essexhighways.org/tell-us/report-all-issues.aspx

A record of the month/ year(s) and if possible the reference number would be helpful.  Janet, Maureen, Ann and Geoff have surveyed Parishes and reported faults as part of the Ramblers Essex Area PPA (Parish Path Adopters) programme.  Whilst some of the bridges reported have been repaired, and I have had some successes with getting stiles not on the Definitive Map removed, faults are often deemed to not meet the criteria for action at this time - which does get rather depressing.  A recent issue is the set of gates blocking Finchingfield FP2 at Locksmith Farm & Barns, Stambourne. 

3) Lost Ways / Don't Loose Your Way & the 2026 cut-off date

Ramblers central office have recently issued press releases stating that the process of checking the information provided on possible "lost ways" to be claimed based on historical evidence has been completed.  Hopefully volunteers will be able to start substantive work soon as the clock is ticking.  An Essex Area co-ordinator is sought.

4) Planning & Development

A large solar farm is proposed on Lord Rayleigh's / Strutt family land stretching south from Terling to the A12 between Boreham &Hatfield Peverel - see www.longfieldsolarfarm.co.uk.   The current non-statutory consultation closes on 14 December.  No diversions are proposed - network improvements / changes may be considered.  Please email me if you live / walk in the area …  ramblers.ke@gamil.com   There are currently 2 vacancies on Hatfield Peverel Parish Council, there may be one vacancy on Boreham Parish Council and one on Terling Parish Council -  rambler's members could usefully consider joining one of the Parish Councils as they will be involved & consulted with. 

Local Plan & development

The big local plan news was the decision in May by the Planning Inspector that two of the three proposed "garden" communities were "unsound".  Only the community around the University of Essex on the Colchester/ Tendring borders will be included in the Local Plans to 2033.  The large proposed community around Marks Tey and the smaller one west of Braintree (Andrewsfield/Saling) have been removed from the Plans.  There is still a big issue with the (increased) housing numbers that the government is requiring to be built and their non-delivery.  Planning consent does not mean that developers will build the homes - they may choose to build out slowly or defer building.

Without a Local Plan in place & without a 5-year housing supply, Braintree District Council continues to receive planning applications for developments on land designated & not-designated in the draft Local Plan.  Major developments are proposed, or already have planning permission, around Halstead, Braintree, Witham, Kelvedon/Feering & Hatfield Peverel.  

Network Rail's Transport and Works Act (Essex and Others Level Crossing Reduction) Order

The public inquiry into Network Rail's proposals to close 50+ non-vehicular level crossings throughout Ramblers Essex Area & east Hertfordshire ended in March 2019 with the final site visits by the Inspector.  The Inspector estimated that his report would be submitted to the Secretary of State in November 2019.  The results of the earlier Cambridgeshire inquiry have recently been published -- of the 25 crossings proposed for closure - about 10 will remain open and 15 will be closed.  The result of the Suffolk Inquiry is awaited. 

Roads: A12 widening, A120 link to A12 and road crossings

The "unsound" decision for the proposed garden community around Marks Tey, enabled Highways England to proceed with the publication of the Preferred Route for the whole of the A12 widening & junction improvements between Boreham (J19) & Marks Tey (J25).  The COVID delayed WCH (walking, cycling and horse riding) workshop is expected to be held shortly - funding is available for PROW crossings and to correct historical severance of the network.  Meetings with Parish Councils along the route are taking place.  Construction work is scheduled for 2023-24. 

The proposed new A120 route from Braintree to the A12, joining the A12 west of Kelvedon was not included in the RIS2 programme, 2020-2025.  ECC are pushing for this to be brought forward or at least to be assured of proceeding to tie in with the A12 works. 

Minerals & Quarrying & the proposed River Blackwater flood alleviation scheme

Restoration of previously quarried land continues with the old east-west path through the old Rivenhall airfield / Bradwell Quarry due to be re-instated as a bridleway around the north side of the new lake (gravel pit).  This will provide a continuous bridleway link between Pantlings Lane and Sheepcotes Lane and north to Cuthedge Lane.  Quarrying work continues to move east towards Coggeshall.  There has been no further information on the joint Blackwater Aggregates & Environment Agency proposal for a River Blackwater flood relief scheme at the eastern end near Coggeshall.  The incinerator chimney has been approved. 

Katherine & Paul Evans

email: ramblers.ke@gmail.com