Frequently asked questions
What is a Local Access Forum?
A Local Access Forum (LAF) is an advisory body required as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Section 94). Hertfordshire Local Access Forum was set up in 2003. The LAF has no executive functions.
What does a Local Access Forum do?
LAFs are statutory advisors to the appointing authority (in Herts this is Hertfordshire County Council) and other bodies including Natural England on the improvement of public access to land for open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area.
In providing advice the LAF must take into account:
• the needs of land management
• the desirability of conserving natural beauty
The LAF must be consulted on:
• maps of open country and registered common land under Part 1 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000;
• any byelaws to be made in respect of access land;
• proposals to appoint wardens for access land;
• the preparation of rights of way improvement plans;
• restrictions and exclusions of access exceeding six month, etc..
Who is on the Local Access Forum?
The LAF has 12 members who represent a balance of interests including users, land managers and others representing broader interests including young people, health and nature conservation. Two members are elected councillors who have been nominated to represent the County Council and the Hertfordshire’s District and Borough Councils. The remaining 10 Forum members were selected following a thorough recruitment process. Details about individual members can be found on the LAF website: www.hertslaf.org.uk/news .........................................
How can I become a member of the Hertfordshire Local Access Forum?
LAF members are on terms of membership which are between 1 and 3 years. Although these appointments can be renewed, it is proposed to reselect members and open up opportunities for others to join the Forum at the end of these terms. It is also likely that opportunities to join the LAF will arise from time to time. These will be widely advertised and the places filled by applicants who have the necessary skills and knowledge and will sustain the balance of interests required by the regulations.
The LAF membership must be balanced between users and land managers and the Regulations oblige the county council to appoint LAF members who appear to represent interests rather than organisations. Furthermore, a range of other interests such as tourism, transport, health, economic development etc. must be represented and HCC wants to see strong representation from those interests. The Government is clear that the LAF should advise on strategic issues not on individual cases.
If I am not a member of the Forum, how can I keep track of its work and results?
Like local government processes, the LAF conducts its business in public i.e. meetings will be open to members of the public and publicised in advance, agendas and papers will be available for scrutiny. The public is encouraged to attend these meetings where there will be an opportunity for them to raise relevant questions, subject to a simple of code of practice. The LAF website will be the primary place to keep track of meetings, papers, etc. www.hertslaf.org.uk. The LAF will also produce an Annual Report showing both the content and outcome of discussions.
Where and when will the Local Access Forum meet?
Dates of LAF meetings will be publicised in advance. A list will be maintained and updated on this website (www.hertslaf.org.uk/publicmeetings or next meeting). It is envisaged that the LAF will meet formally 3 times per year.
Who is in charge of the Local Access Forum?
Whilst the County Council was responsible for setting up and supporting the LAF, including arranging secretarial support, it is an independent body. The LAF will elect its own Chairman, decide its own work programme and report to relevant bodies as it sees fit.
What happens to advice given by the Local Access Forum?
Recipients of the LAF’s advice must have regard to the views of the Forum when making relevant decisions.
What is the relationship with other Forums?
There are 81 Local Access Forums across the country. National and regional training days and seminars are attended and this enables networking and debate on current issues. A national LAF has recently (2008) been formed and our chairperson is a member. Close links with neighbouring Local Access Forums encourage exchange of ideas and best practice. These relationships will be especially important where designated areas overlap administrative boundaries such as the Chilterns AONB, Lee Valley Regional Park, etc.
Items of relevance being discussed at the England Access Forum will be brought to the attention of the LAF.
Where can I find out more?
You can contact our Herts LAF Secretary Ms Anna Mangini at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Hertfordshire County Council you can contact Richard Cuthbert or Bob Fenton, tel. 01992 555292.
The Local Access Forums (England) Regulations 2002 are available from The Stationery Office Ltd, ISBN 0110299922 and on the internet at: www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk.
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