Rights of Way Local Forums – OFS Representation

Oxfordshire County Council’s Countryside Access Team (CAT) hold two meetings of the Rights of Way Monitoring Group (RoWMG) each year, usually in October and April. The User Groups of the Public Rights of Way: the Ramblers, CPRE, Open Spaces Society, British Horse-riding Association, the Chiltern Society, the Cotswold Wardens and the OFS, each send two representatives.

The OFS is currently represented by Nick Moon and myself, or a substitute; Mike Wykes and Liz Adams have acted in this capacity. Other organisations with representation on RoWMG are the NFU and the Country Landowners’ Association.

These meetings provide an opportunity for the Team Leader of CAT to review the previous six months, highlighting particular issues of note and looking at the priorities for the next six-month period. An overall summary report of the CAT’s countywide activities is included. This gives an indication of the scale of the CAT’s workload.

As well as giving details of the operational aspects of CAT, the Definitive Map and Commons section also provides regular reports. This section deals with any potential changes to the PRoW network, such as requests for new paths, path diversions and other modifications etc.

The RoWMG meeting is then followed, (usually a week later), by meetings of four Rights of Way Local Forums, The County’s PRoW network is overseen by 4 County Field Officers (CFOs) and 2 Assistants. Each CFO’s area roughly coincides with the 4 District Councils.

Thus, Sarah Aldous is CFO North and covers parishes in Cherwell District Council, Dan Weeks is CFO West and covers West Oxfordshire District and the City of Oxford, Arthur McEwan-James is Acting CFO South West and covers the Vale of White Horse District and also some parishes in the western part of South Oxfordshire District, and Jon Beale, CFO South East, covers the remainder of South Oxfordshire.

The Local Forums follow a similar pattern of representation. For example, I normally attend the Vale of White Horse Local Forum, with other OFS members, latterly John Asbridge or John Eyre. Nick Moon attends the South Oxfordshire Local Forum.

However, we do need more OFS members to attend the 4 Forums to take up our permitted representation. At the Forums the CFO will present a report, usually well illustrated with photographs, on PRoW issues in his/her particular area. The Local Forums allow the opportunity for users of the path network to ask detailed questions on, say, specific paths or to raise issues relating to their area. It is a very good way of getting to know about the work of the Field Officer for their area.

I believe that it is very important that the OFS is fully represented on each of the 4 local Forums. I would be pleased to hear from any member who may be interested in volunteering to become an OFS representative at one of these Forums.

Jim Parke