Leeds Group of the Ramblers’ Association
Minutes of Annual General Meeting held on Sat, 12th November 2016 in Victory Hall, Thorner at 3.00 pm
Martin Bennett (Former Chair), Carl Richman (Secretary), Peter Sweeney (Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Walks Programme Co-ordinator), Lee Davidson (Minutes Secretary and Footpath Secretary), Stephanie Blevins (committee member), Josie Andrews (committee member) and 9 members of the Group.
The role of meeting chair has circulated among committee members during the year. Peter Sweeney took on the role of chair at this AGM and welcomed members.
Liz Maskell, Kevin Nelson, Mike Willison.
Minutes of the AGM of 21st November, 2015
The Minutes of the AGM of 21st November, 2015 were circulated at the meeting.
The meeting noted that the name of the seconder of the motion proposing the new committee had not been recorded, but nevertheless approved the Minutes as a correct record of the proceedings (Prop C Ryder, Sec S Senior).
5 Safety of walkers in fields with bulls
Colin Calderwood’s motion concerning bulls in fields and danger to walkers had been sent in for consideration at the Area Council but had been defeated at that meeting.
The meeting agreed that the problems would not go away. The mention of dairy bulls in legislation is minimal and badly out of date. The original proposer of the motion pointed out that around 18 walkers had been killed by bulls since 2000, the majority accompanied by dogs. Martin Bennett had recently come across a Harris Hawk close to a path in Derbyshire. Birds of prey were certainly not treated as dangerous by the law and there seemed to be no provision for wild animals of any sort. Police had little interest in enforcing such legislation as there is, except for such wild-life specialists as are to be found in various forces.
The meeting noted the discussion of the issue and its continuing importance.
Treasurer’s report and Accounts for 2016 (PSw)
Peter Sweeney presented the accounts which had been inspected and approved by John Miles.
The balance was around £2000. £1500 of this had been allocated to Leeds City Council for the purpose of improving signage and waymarking on paths in the city. This funding would be matched by Leeds CC. The details of where the new signs etc were to be erected were being worked out in discussions with the Rights of Way service officers.
This donation would leave around £400. To this would be added the funding to be received in January 2017 from Central Office, which would amount to £650.
Please see separate report page
A motion to approve the accounts was Proposed by S Blevins and Seconded by Colin Calderwood. The motion was approved.
Election of officers and members for 2017
All the members of the present Committee were willing to continue, so the list following was brought forward for approval:
|Minutes Secretary and Footpath Secretary||Lee Davidson|
|Treasurer, Membership Secretary and Walks Programme Co-ordinator||Peter Sweeney|
|Countryside Secretary||Mike Willison|
|Committee member||Martin Bennett|
|Committee member||Josie Andrews|
|Committee member||Stephanie Blevins|
Jean Wynne was, in addition, proposed from the floor.
The meeting approved the above nominations (Prop L Cook, Sec J Wynne).
The meeting noted that there had been no Chair in 2016. Committee members had taken it in turn to chair the quarterly Committee meetings. In the absence of a volunteer for this coming year it was proposed to continue with the same arrangement. MB pointed out that the role of Chair could be confined to chairing meetings and that the Chair did not always have to be concerned with promoting the objectives of the organisation by intensive work in attracting publicity, holding meetings with relevant individuals and organisations etc.
Officers’ Reports and Presentations
The Secretary’s annual report on the Group had been distributed to members at the meeting and is included below as a supplement to these minutes
The Footpath Secretary gave a summary presentation of a selection of the cases he had dealt with during the year.
These included cases (FPs Leeds 172 and Morley 90) where paths had been closed to users for unreasonably long times at the request of construction contractors. The legal process for Temporary Closures is, regrettably, left entirely to the applicants and the authority with no provision for third parties such as the Ramblers to intervene.
A number of cases (at Weetwood Lane, Wortley Low Mill, Skelton Moor Farm and land behind Seacroft Hospital) planning applications had been lodged which would affect paths running on or close to the sites. The proposed diversions had been criticised and some alternatives had been proposed, but not with complete success.
Another case (at Dagmar Woods, Headingley) local residents had protested when a gate giving through access from the Woods (a de facto area of free public access) to the grounds of flats in Grosvenor Park Gardens. A site examination had found that there were clearly displayed signs announcing that the grounds of the flats were not a public right of way. These signs had been in place for some time. The presence of such a sign constitutes a challenge to claiming a path through twenty years of unchallenged use.
An extinguishment proposal at Asquith Primary School, Morley had been made to close a path in the school grounds in order to protect the school from intruders and incidents close to the pupils’ play area. Although the school did not wish to see the path closed completely they did wish to be able to control access during school hours and at times when children and parents were moving near the school. A diversion round the edge of the site had been proposed as an alternative, but this was impracticable owing to lack of level ground to construct the path at one point. A Public Space Protection order had been proposed as an alternative, leaving it possible for the path to be left open in school holidays and thus to give children access to a small green space, but no final response had yet been given.
A path user on FP Morley 88 at Scholecroft Farm had been turned back in the farm yard because he was wheeling a bicycle and had made inquiries at Ramblers national office. On further investigation it was found that case law has established that bicycles are not normal equipment for a walker and therefore riding or wheeling a bicycle can constitute grounds for a civil action of trespass to be commenced by the landowner. Note that this contrasts with the road traffic offence which is created by riding a bicycle on footway (‘pavement’) though that law is seldom enforced.
In discussion Colin Calderwood raised the important issue of the poor state of path furniture such as stiles. Lack of maintenance due to cuts would result in their gradual decay, leading to increasing safety problems. Landowners are normally expected to maintain such structures.
In the past year 32 new members had joined the group, but the losses of members had been greater. The membership had decreased from 591 to 561 overall during the year.
Walks programme and website information(PSw)
The next programme walks had recently been published. These walks appeared in the Area programme.
Communicating with members was now much easier through a website, allowing late changes of programme and the like to be quickly published. The Group website had recently had to be changed and was now available at
There would be a front page list of the next six walks coming up, and links to information about starting points etc.
Funds donated to Leeds City Council (MB)
Having donated £1000 for path signage in 2015, the Committee had decided to donate £1500 in 2016. This money would be matched by Leeds City Council.
MB showed a photo of a path in the Farnley area where a sign had been placed in 2015. There was evidence on the ground that the path was now being used. The landowner had erected a new electric fence to show the boundary of the path.
It had been decided that the money for 2016 should be spent in the area bounded roughly by Farnley and Whitehall Road running south to Gelderd Road, touching on Churwell and coming in as far as Beeston Royds. Housing had increased in this area and there were deterrent features on the two paths (FPs Leeds 170 and 171) which give access to an area of open fields with fine views making it unlikely that families would want to use the paths. The objective of spending the funds should be to open up this area for increased walking.
A meeting had been arranged with the Rights of Way officers of Leeds City Council to work out the best places to place the signs, waymarks etc which would make the path network in the chosen area more walker-friendly.
Pathwatch Campaign (MB)
The next stage of national campaigning following on from Big Pathwatch was being launched on November 15th.
See the web page at http://www.ramblers.org.uk/get-involved/pathwatch.aspx.
MB suggested that members could select a OS map square and look closely at the paths in the square.
The meeting discussed possible barriers to greater participation in walking. SB asked whether the need for boots and other special equipment was seen as a deterrent. It was suggested that pictures of the kind of trainers and less expensive footwear regularly used by walkers in the Group could be placed on the website.
A trend had emerged in the past year proposing that footpaths should be open to cycling with fewer restrictions. Legal changes in Wales were already moving this way. Clearly walkers would have views on this, but it was unlikely that the pressure would go away. Cycling on canal towpaths was already widespread (eg the route along the Leeds-Liverpool Canal). There had been problems on London towpaths but fewer on those in our region. Walkers still felt that there were some aggressive cyclists who made a policy of sharing hard to put into practice.
There were problems with surface damage and dogs on leads.
Horse riders only had a small proportion of Rights of Way as Bridleways and it was reasonable to argue that their patchy provision deserved to be improved.
It is worth noting that The British Horse Society has been particularly active in promoting increased work on claiming Rights of Way before the 2026 deadline of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 comes into effect. Its training courses have benefitted many Ramblers members.
The meeting ended at 16.40 approximately.
Receipts and Payments