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Essex Area Update

posted 5 May 2018, 03:48 by Ralph Burtonshaw
Welcome to the May Edition of the Essex Area Update

To link to this edition on the Essex Area Website click here

Festival of Walks 26th May - 3rd June

Since the last update a further walk has been added thanks to the Havering Group, on Sat. 2nd June and we thanked them for their efforts. Groups and Area came together for Ramblers CEO walk  in June and comments were made by members that this should happen again.This festival is an opportunity for that to occur.  To get message out a number of Groups are volunteering to use their Facebook page to advertise the events. For a small sum, set by the Groups we will be able to contact many, many people not normally accessed. We will be able to monitor the response and if reports from other Groups across the country is correct it will be positive. This is a trial the results of which we can discussed at the next meeting.

In the meantime I would ask all Groups to support those leading these walks. Get your friends together and enjoy a day with another Group getting to know them, pinching their ideas, chatting about the world, having a pint and taking the pleasure of meeting new colleagues.

Please support these walks, we all know how much a good crowd makes it all worthwhile.

Alan Goffee vice Chair

Saturday 26th May.
Linear Walk from Shoeburyness along coastal path via Thorpe Bay, Southend and Leigh on Sea, to Benfleet Station. Meet at 10.30 am at Shoeburyness Station Grid ref TQ 939850, Post code SS3 9AW. Distance 12 miles but options for shorter routes during first 7 miles. Lunch at Southend Cliff Gardens, Cafes available.
Lead by South East Essex.

Sunday 27th May.
Circular Walk from Kelvedon to Coggeshall.
Meet at 10.15 am at Pay and Display Car Park in High Street, Post Code CO5 9AA. Distance 10 miles. Lunch at pubs or cafe's in Coggeshall. 
Lead by Chelmer and Blackwater.

Tuesday 29th May.
Figure of 8 Walk from Eagle Pub, Kelvedon Hatch.
Meet at 10.15 am at Eagle Pub Grid ref TQ 570987 Post code CM15 0AA. Distance 10 miles, split evenly. Lunch at Eagle Pub.
Lead by Brentwood.

Wednesday 30th May.
Circular Walk around Abberton Reservoir.
Meet at 10.00 am at St Andrews Church, Rectory Lane, Abberton. ( Private car park ,min donation for all day £4.) Grid ref TL 997 193 Post code CO5 7NJ. Distance 10 miles leisurely pace. Lunch at EWT Visitor Centre Abberton..
Lead by Colchester.

Thursday 31st May.
Three Circular Walks from Chingford BR Station Post Code E4 6AL.
Long Walk via Gilwell Park, Lea Valley, Epping Forest, and High
Beech Meet at 10.30am at Chingford Station. Parking in Bury Road Grid ref CP395948 Post Code E4 7QJ.  Distance 11 miles . Lunch at The Owl Public House.
Medium Walk via Gilwell Park and Epping Forest.
Meet at 1.30 pm at Chingford Station. Parking as above. Distance 5 miles.
Short Walk amble around Gilwell Park with commentary.
Meet at TBA Distance 2 / 3 miles.
All walks to finish together for cream teas at URC Buxton Road E4.
Lead by West Essex Group.

Saturday 2nd June.
5 mile Walk from Chipping Ongar.
Meet at Car Park opposite Chef and Brewer Pub Post Code CM5 9QU 
Grid Ref TL 550 025 Start Time TBC

Report on General Council, Bangor 7-8 April 2018

The Ramblers’ General Council meets annually and consists of representatives from each area. It elects Trustees, reviews the previous year’s work and considers motions from areas about policy and governance. Think of it as the equivalent of a party political conference or the TUC’s annual congress.
This year’s GC was held at Bangor University and was attended by Area Chair Gordon Bird and Vice Chair Alan Goffee.  Both have submitted reports. 

To see more details of what happens at the Ramblers General Council click here to see video of the weekend
Gordon Bird
This report should be read in conjunction with Alan Goffee's report. I shall try to avoid duplicating Alan's comments.
As this was the first time I have attended the General Council many of the proceedings and people were new to me. I was mainly in listening mode although I did raise concerns with the Finance Controller regarding the approach to, and communications on, setting budgets and allocations.
So what were the messages?
First, the Ramblers is a democratic, volunteer led, organisation which must act as one team if it is to be relevant in today's rapidly shifting environment. References were made to government priorities, Brexit, local authority's cost constraints, demographic changes, a growing technological footprint, infrastructure programmes and local development plans. Many of these are familiar to us.  It is estimated there are about 9 million regular walkers in the UK, however over the past few years the Ramblers’ membership has been in gentle decline and now stands at 105,000. This brings into stark focus the questions - why is this happening? -  and more importantly - how should it be addressed? There was no time allocated to debate this issue, however the new management team led by Kate Ashbrook, Ramblers’ Chair, and Vanessa Griffiths, Chief Executive, are addressing it. 
Ramblers promotes the health and economic benefits of walking and will continue to undertake activities such as footpath maintenance, creating national trails, walk programmes and campaigning to protect the public rights of way. These are vital activities; however, it is clear this is not sufficient – we need to do more to stay relevant in today's society. We need to look outwards as well as inwards.
The Data and Digital Transformation Programme presentation from Laura Scarlett was warmly received. The weaknesses of our present IT platform are well known. Besides improving the internal workings of Ramblers, data will be warehoused and used to assist in growing our organisation. It is a three-year project; new releases will be rolled out over that period.
There were regular references regarding the need for improved communication across the organisation, something with which we are familiar.
Finances have now stabilised after repayment of the pension deficit (£1m+) and becoming a direct beneficiary of the People’s Postcode Lottery scheme. This enabled the Transformation programme to commence. However, the decline in membership will adversely affect future funding unless around 10,000 new recruits per year are found to replace those leaving. Legacy income has also dropped, increasing the need for further fund-raising initiatives.
The Trustees have a vital role in setting the Ramblers’ strategy. However, I was unable to discern how they went about this. Maybe I'll find out later.  The importance of the Area structure was also emphasised as many of the planned initiatives need Area resources and commitment if they are to succeed.
Overall I found it an informative and useful couple of days. The attendees were positive, knowledgeable and helpful. It is fair to say I have a better insight into Ramblers – and more to reflect on.
Gordon Bird, Chair, Essex Ramblers
Alan Goffee

By courtesy of Area Council, I have represented Essex at the last four General Councils. This report covers my observations over that period. Gordon was attending his first and reflects on this in his report.

At these meetings reports are made on progress over the last year, the objectives for the future, voting for the Board of Trustees, and the debating of motions from Areas and Groups. The quality in each every aspect of these has seen big improvements.
In one of the early years, it was highlighted how much had been saved by changing the paper used for the Walk magazine and what a great job the Footpath App would do. This year we had presentations on the Data Transformation Project, the need to increase the membership, our working arrangements with People’s Postcode Lottery, how we need to adjust to the changing walking environment, the reasons for appointing a fundraising manager and how the repayment of the pension deficit has been made.

This year, as in the recent past, the quality of members standing for election as Trustees, meant it was possible to concentrate on what experience the organisation needed, and not have any duplication. I think Rebecca and Sophie, who came to the Area AGM, clearly demonstrated that and their willingness to return for our next AGM shows their engagement with members.
The level of debate on the motions put forward, like for our own last year, was high, informed, balanced and non-destructive. During the years when Governance was being discussed, it was angry, strident in tone, unpleasant in content and very negative.

I came away uplifted by the fact the organisation was now facing, and not ignoring the future, it was listening to its members, it was heading in a forward direction and that it was in the right hands.

To many members General Council, The Board of Trustees and Central Office are not important. That in itself says much about the past. The next few years will demonstrate how their vision affects our organisation and why our involvement and voice must not be hidden.

Alan Goffee, Vice Chair

Have your say on the future of the Countryside

The government has launched a consultation on its proposals for the future of food, farming and the environment. This will shape the upcoming agriculture bill and have a significant impact on the future of access to the countryside. 

The Ramblers have teamed up with Cycling UK, The British Horse Society, the British Mountaineering Council and the Open Spaces Society to protect the future of countryside access. Sign our petition to ensure the agriculture bill includes measures which protect and enhance access to the countryside.

Defra Permissive Country Walks

The Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Environmental Stewardship Schemes help farmers and land managers protect and improve the English landscape and its wildlife.
These schemes also provide permissive access for you to visit these areas to enjoy the results. The access route is usually available for a number of years, but you will need to check the ‘access ends’ date on each site.
Click on Search for a Walk or Ride to find Walks & Rides listed by County, Region and facilities.

Asian Hornet

Potential health impact through stings; although painful, Asian hornets are not considered especially aggressive, although care needs to be taken to avoid close proximity to nests which may be more problematic if nests are in or around buildings. Queens are up to 3 cm in length; workers up to 25 mm (slightly smaller than the native European hornet. Click here for the latest information on the Asian Hornet