The Role of Local Access Forums
Local Access Forums (LAF) are advisory bodies. Section 94 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 defines their statutory function as being to 'advise as to the improvement of public access to land in the area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area, and as to such other matters as may be prescribed.'
The Telford and Wrekin Local Access Forum meets four times a year and consists of volunteers from the public and is attended by Council officers including the Senior Rights of Way Officer. The meetings but the meeting is chaired by a member of the public independent of the Council.
Members of the public can put themselves up for election to the forum as volunteers. Each member should have experience in countryside access whether it be walking, cycling, horse-riding or water sports. There are also members who represent disability issues and landownership.
Discussions vary but in the past years the LAF has discussed path clearance, the Definitive Map, design and building of new trails and the effect development of housing has on access to green spaces.
Many members of the LAF lead their own projects under the banner of the LAF including activities such as Definitive Map Modification Order Applications, path clearance groups, promotion of trails, and the building of new way marked trails.
The LAF provides a very powerful and positive way to influence and drive forward local authority work on maintaining and improving the green network. The LAF is also responsible for advising on the local authorities Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
Next meeting: Thursday 7 July 2016.