Role and Responsibilities
1. Section 94 of the Countryside And Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 places a statutory duty on highway authorities to establish advisory bodies to be known as Local Access Forums. The primary purpose of the Rutland Countryside Access Forum is to provide advice to the authorities and to Natural England on how to make the countryside more accessible and enjoyable for open-air recreation, in ways which address social, economic and environmental interests. The Forum will encourage and assist access provision, giving advice on issues of particular local relevance.
2. The Rutland Countryside Access Forum will give advice on three main topics:
a) Development of recreation and access strategies which cater for a wide range of people;
b) Improving the rights of way network; and
c) Implementation, management and review of the statutory right of access to the countryside.
3. Those bodies obliged to have regard to advice received from the Forum should give serious consideration to excluding Forum members from paid work initiated by those bodies, where such work could be directly and specifically attributed to the advice received from the Forum.
4. The Rutland Countryside Access Forum will work to:
a) Develop a constructive and inclusive approach to the improvement of recreational access to the countryside;
b) Respect local circumstances and different interests while operating within national guidance;
c) Provide advice on issues of principle and good practice which is consistent with national guidance;
d) Engage in constructive debate and seek consensus wherever possible; and
e) Where consensus is not possible, make clear the nature of differing views, and suggest how they might be resolved.
In carrying out these functions, the Forum shall have regard to:
· The needs of land management
· The desirability of conserving the natural beauty of the area for which it is established, including the flora, fauna and geological and physiographical features of the area;
· Guidance given from time to time by the Secretary of State; and
· Proper liaison with neighbouring authorities
5. The membership will:
a) Be balanced to avoid dominance by any single interest group or coalition of like interested; and
b) Include a cross-section of local interests in the countryside.
6. The membership will include:
a) An independent Chair;
b) An optimum number of twelve with a maximum of fourteen members, and;
c) Two representatives from Rutland County Council.
7. Members in total must bring a wide range of experience, including:
a) Recreational use, for example, walking, riding and cycling;
b) Land management, for example, tenants, landowners and occupiers, and others with an interest in the land; and
c) Nature conservation, heritage, tourism, health, business, disability and transport.
8. The Chair and Vice Chair will be elected on an annual basis.
9. Each Forum should contain roughly equal number of members ascribed to each of the categories in 7a and 7b. Members who genuinely have experience and credibility in relation to more than one category in 7 will be particularly useful.
10. Members will be appointed by the authority according to selection criteria which assess if candidates have sufficient experience of access to the countryside in the local area to be able to make an informed and constructive contribution to improving access provision.
11. Advertisement for new members would be done through local networks, Parish Council Forum, and the local press.
12. Before appointment, members will be asked to confirm:
a) Their support of the positive purpose of Local Forums;
b) Commitment to working within the terms of reference and achieving the aims of the Local Forum through constructive working with other members; and
c) That they are able to devote the necessary time to attend meetings, training and to network with a wide range of interests outside meetings.
13. Any member of the Forum who has a personal interest, whether direct or indirect, in a matter to be discussed by the Forum, to disclose the nature of that interest at the meeting.
14. A member of the Forum may resign at any time by giving written notice to the authority that appointed him or her.
15. Members are expected to be able to devote the necessary time to attend meetings. Where a member misses all meetings in a year, the Forum shall review his/her position.
Subject to a review and it being agreed by the Forum that a member be replaced, the replacement member should ideally be from the same interest group and the appointment shall be subject to the usual selection procedure (organised by the appointing authority)
16. The quorum for the Forum meeting is 5. Where the Chair feels that the meeting is unbalanced because of low attendance the Chair has the discretion to postpone the meeting.
17. Meetings will be held at least twice a year, and more frequently when necessary. One of these meetings will be the Annual General Meeting at which the Chair and Vice Chair shall be selected.
18. The appointing authority will provide access to meeting rooms, provide a secretary and reimburse reasonable child care and travelling costs.
19. Meeting agendas will be agreed between the Chair, the Officers of the appointing authority and the secretary to the Forum.
20. Members of the Forum will be entitled to submit agenda items to the Secretary 14 days prior to the meeting.
21. Meetings will be advertised in advance and held in public.
22. Agendas, papers and minutes of meetings will be available to the public.
23. The Chair will invite observers to the meeting when appropriate.
24. Observers will be able to contribute to the proceedings at the discretion of the Chair.
25. The public will be able to ask questions on the business of the meetings at the discretion of the Chair, subject to a time limit of 3 minutes per person.
26. The appointing authority will have the right to review the membership of the Local Forum on an annual basis, if necessary.
27. The Secretary shall prepare regular progress reports of the Forum’s business to the appointing authority.
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