Hampshire Countryside Service

Forum Structure and Remit

Hampshire Countryside Access Forum is the Local Access Forum for Hampshire (excluding the New Forest), Southampton and Portsmouth, as required under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

1. Aim

The main aim of the Forum is to

Provide guidance on and contribute towards improving opportunities to enjoy Hampshire’s countryside and coast.

2. Remit

The remit of the Forum is to

2.1 Fulfil the statutory duty to advise on the improvement of public access to land for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area, as described in the Countryside and Rights Of Way Act 2000.

2.2 Contribute in an advisory capacity to the development and monitoring of the Countryside Access Plans (Rights of Way Improvement Plans) and contribute to their implementation.

2.3 Promote the appropriate use and enjoyment of the countryside by all.

2.4 Advise upon the appropriate management and maintenance of access, including the road network, balancing this with biodiversity, wildlife management and the interests of land owners and managers. This to consist largely of influencing policy and, as appropriate, national legislation.

2.5 Advise on developing additional opportunities for everyone to enjoy the rights of way and access network where needed, with particular emphasis on encouraging those who might feel excluded, for example people with disabilities.

2.6 Work to ensure that the necessary resources are available to fulfil Forum aims and to deliver real improvements.

3. Geographic Area

3.1 The Forum is a joint Forum with the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton and covers the whole of the administrative area of the county and two cities, with the exception of the New Forest and South Downs areas as described below.

3.2 A Local Access Forum (‘New Forest Access Forum’) has been established by the New Forest National Park Authority and Hampshire County Council to advise on the New Forest National Park area and the remaining parts of New Forest District.

3.3 A Local Access Forum (‘South Downs Access Forum’) has been established by the South Downs National Park Authority to advise on the South Downs National Park area.

Other Local Access Forums

4.1 A representative of the Hampshire Forum will maintain links with neighbouring Local Access Forums, including strong links with New Forest Access Forum and South Downs Access Forum.

5. Operation of Forum

5.1 Forum members will, through consultation, represent an area of interest rather than the views of any specific organisation they belong to.

5.2 Meetings will be held at least quarterly and are likely to be arranged for week daytimes.

5.3 The meeting shall be deemed quorate when 50% of its members are present.

5.4 Specific issue groups will be established by the Forum, as and when required.

5.5 The Forum shall produce and distribute an annual report.

5.6 Members who have a personal interest, whether direct or indirect, in a matter to be discussed by the Forum should disclose that interest at the meeting. A personal interest is defined as one which might affect a member’s well-being, financial position or business, or that of a relative or friend, to a greater extent than that of other council tax payers, ratepayers or other inhabitants of the area. Personal interests will be recorded in the minutes but will not necessarily prohibit that member from taking part in discussion of the item.

6. Chair and Vice-chair

6.1 The Chair and Vice-chair will be drawn from Forum members and elected by separate secret ballots. One post should be filled by a member with principally land-managing interests and the other with a member who has principally user interests; members of the appointing authorities are not eligible for either position. The period of appointment should be one year, finishing at the Forum AGM.

7. Observers

7.1 The following observers may attend and take part in discussion but cannot vote or take part in decision-making

  • Officers from Hampshire County Council, Portsmouth City Council and Southampton City Council
  • An Equal Opportunities / Disability Discrimination Act specialist
  • A New Forest Access Forum representative
  • A South Downs Access Forum representative
  • Representatives from neighbouring Local Access Forums
  • Representatives from interest groups
  • Government bodies such as Natural England, Defra and the Forestry Commission

7.2 The list may be amended by decision of the Forum, with due regard to the desirability of maintaining a balance of interests during discussion.

8. Public Access to Meetings

8.1 All meetings are open to the public.

8.2 A period of not more than 10 minutes per person and not exceeding 20 minutes in total will be available for representations from members of the public at each Forum meeting.

8.3 These representations will need to be made in writing to the officer responsible for the administration of the Local Access Forum a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the Forum meeting.

8.4 A limited period will be available, after representations have been made, to deal with any issues raised.

8.5 An annual meeting, open to members of the public, will be held to report on the activities of the Forum and to obtain feedback from the public. The public may attend any Forum meeting but may not speak other than at the annual meeting unless they have made prior representation as described above.

8.6 Agenda, minutes and reports relating to the Forum will be available to the public via the Forum website and on paper.

9. Appendices

Appendix 1: Members’ Roles and Responsibilities and Appendix 2: Authorities’ Roles and Responsibilities follow.

9.2 In addition to this document, see the regulations governing Local Access Forums.

 

Appendix 1

Members’ Roles And Responsibilities

Members should

  • be representative of countryside access users, owners or occupiers of land, or other related interests especially relevant to Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton
  • provide an independent view, rather than reflect the views of any particular organisation(s)
  • actively pursue opportunities to convey the work of the Forum and obtain feedback through newsletters or other means, within that member’s own organisation(s) and also others with similar interests active within the area covered by the Forum
  • be expected to attend all meetings (4-6 meetings a year anticipated), but must attend a minimum of two meetings a year; deputies will not be allowed
  • be willing to serve on the Forum for an initial period of three years (term may be extended if acceptable to the appointing authorities and the member concerned)
  • allow a picture, brief biography and e-mail address to be available to members of the public and other interested parties on publicity, including the Forum web-site
  • regularly check and respond to e-mail and written enquiries, and include other Forum members when appropriate.
 

Appendix 2

Authorities’ Roles And Responsibilities

Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council will between them

  • Have regard to the Forum’s advice when making their decisions
  • Provide a venue (usually in Winchester) and refreshments for Hampshire Countryside Access Forum meetings
  • Provide a secretariat and on-going support and advice to the Forum as a whole and to individual Forum members
  • Attend, at least once a year, a meeting of each of the adjoining Local Access Forums and obtain agendas and minutes of every meeting; occasionally relay material to the Hampshire Local Access Forum
  • Attend the majority of the New Forest and South Downs Access Forums and liaise between the two groups
  • Reimburse Forum members for out-of-pocket expenses, principally travel, child-care and occasional meals but including other reasonable expenses if agreed in advance
  • Relay the advice given by the Forum to the relevant committees and/or members of each authority at appropriate times
  • Promote the work of the Forum through available means including press releases and a website