About the Central Bedfordshire Local Access Forum
Along with national park authorities, we are required, under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, to establish a local access forum to provide strategic advice on "the improvement of public access to land in that 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 membership of this group must be balanced between different interests in the countryside so that it can provide well-argued, unbiased advice. The act requires us and Natural England to take the forum's advice seriously.
We are currently looking to recruit new members who either:
- are young people or represent the views of young people
- are landowners or land managers
- run a rural business or have an interest in tourism in the local area
- represent the interests of ethnic minorities or users with disabilities
Download an application form (PDF 52KB) .
For further details, please contact the local access forum secretary on 0300 300 6888. We look forward to hearing from you.
The remit of the local access forum is to:
- advise on the improvement of public access to land in Central Bedfordshire for open-air recreation and enjoyment, as described in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000
- contribute, in an advisory capacity, to the development of our rights of way improvement plans
- promote opportunities to enjoy the countryside, including appropriate use by people using cycles and walking with dogs
- advise on management and maintenance of access, balancing the provision of access against the needs of biodiversity, wildlife management and landowners and managers.
- advise on developing additional opportunities for everyone to enjoy the rights of way and access network, in particular for those with disabilities
- work to ensure that the necessary resources are available to fulfil forum aims and to deliver agreed improvements
The forum meets approximately 4 times a year, usually on mid-week evenings, but this is determined by the members. Members will be expected to attend all meetings but must attend a minimum of 3 per year. Membership should be for an initial period of 1 to 3 years and may be renewed. Members will be expected to actively seek the views of the interest groups (not just 1 organisation) they are linked with and to spread the news of the work of the forum.
Membership of forum
It is likely that the forum will discuss contentious issues and that its advice will guide our policies and actions. Therefore, the forum should contain a balance of ages, ethnicity and geographical locations across our area. It is also vital that the membership of the forum represents a wide range of interests and is balanced between the wish to increase access and the need to protect the landscape and its economic use.
To ensure that balance is achieved, the forum should include representation for:
- dog walking
- equestrian (riding and driving)
- motorised vehicles use
- mobility access
- ethnic minority groups
- rural business
- countryside sites ('friends of' groups)
- young people
- sport and health
- voluntary section / P3
- land-owning / managing; up to 6 members, to include individuals and organisations
- councillors; a maximum of 1 councillor from our area
- Chilterns area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, through the Chilterns Conservation Board
The ability of each member to recognise the validity of the views of others and to seek consensus will be vital, as will independence from the views of any particular organisation.
Observers may attend meetings and can comment but cannot vote; these will include our officers and officers from Natural England (which is overseeing local access forums across the country).
Our selection panel, made up of relevant officers, manages the process. The panel follows all relevant regulations and guidelines to agree on selection criteria, the contents of an application form, text for advertisement and for letters to all known interested contacts. Once the closing date has passed, the panel examines the applications and makes recommendations for membership in the Central Bedfordshire Local Access Forum.
The recommendations will be passed to our relevant assistant directors and forum members. They will assess the recommendations to ensure that the criteria for appointments have been met and approve appointments.
Once the decision has been made, all applicants will be informed whether they have been appointed or not.
Responsibilities of members of the local access forum
- be resident in or have definable interests in Central Bedfordshire
- be representative of access land, rights of way users, owners or occupiers of land, or other related interests relevant to Central Bedfordshire
- provide an independent view, rather than reflect the views of any particular organisation
- pursue opportunities to publicise the work of the forum and obtain feedback through newsletters or other means, within their own organisations and also others with similar interests active within the area covered by the forum
- be expected to attend all meetings (4 meetings a year anticipated), but must also attend a minimum of 3 meetings a year; deputies will be allowed at no more than 1 meeting per year, with prior agreement from the chairman via the LAF secretary
- be willing to serve on the forum for an initial period of between 1 and 3 years (term may be extended if acceptable to the appointing authorities and the member concerned)
- allow their name, picture and interest categories to be available to members of the public and other interested parties publicly
- take a full interactive part in the forum and any sub-groups which may be established
- regularly check emails and respond where required in a timely fashion
For further details, please email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Public participation at forum meetings
All of the forum's meetings are open to the public and we would be glad to see members of the public there. Find out when the meetings are held.
Agendas, papers and minutes of the meeting will be available to the public online and at our Priory House office in Chicksands, usually at least 3 days before meetings.
- the meetings of the forum will be open public meetings and held in venues that are accessible to all
- members of the public are welcome to attend the meetings and contribute to discussions on the agenda items, at the discretion of the chairman
- if you wish to speak at a meeting on a subject which is not on the agenda, you must arrange to do this by contacting the forum secretary (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than 2 working days before the meeting, stating the subject that you would like to speak on and why (speaking will normally be limited to 5 minutes, but the chairman may reduce this time limit because of the length of the agenda or the number of people wanting to speak)
- in addition, an open question and answer session will be held at each meeting, where members of the public can ask direct questions on any subject related to the work of the forum
- when speaking, it is necessary to keep to the subject, avoid defamatory, offensive or abusive language, and keep to time
- the chairman's decision is final on all matters relating to public participation in forum meetings