Almost 50 participants gathered in Perth on 28 September at a workshop which aimed to support recreation user representatives on Local Access Forums (LAFs) across Scotland.
The workshop was jointly hosted by British Horse Society Scotland, Cycling UK Scotland, Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland, Mountaineering Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, Scottish Canoe Association and ScotWays.
The aim of the event was to:
- Share experiences and build networks across LAFs
- Identify key areas where recreation bodies can support their members on LAFs
- Help LAF members learn about how access rights work in practice
- Update members on the latest access developments.
The programme was as follows:
- The role and functions of LAFs:
Presentation by Rona Gibb, Paths for All
- Discussion: What’s happening in your LAF?
We heard from a range of LAF members from across Scotland. While some LAFs are working well, the overall picture is of a general reduction in the role, status and visibility of LAFs which is mainly due to reduced resources for access within local authorities.
- Update on access legal cases
Presentation by Richard Barron, ScotWays. Further reading: General case law commentary, Drumlean, Cairnbank.
- Dealing with access issues
Presentation by Eleisha Fahy, ScotWays and Eddie Palmer, Scottish Canoe Association
- Perspectives from different user groups – challenges and needs.
We heard from Eddie Palmer of Scottish Canoe Association about paddlers, Paul Timms from Cycling UK Scotland and Will Clarke about cyclists and mountain bikers, including a presentation from DMBinS, and a presentation from Helene Mauchlen of British Horse Society Scotland.
- Small group discussions
The participants split up into groups of six to seven to discuss various issues of interest. Feedback on topics covered was as follows:
- Path repairs and liability
- Recruitment and awareness raising of the LAF with young people
- Using the representative bodies to help recruit LAF members
- Communications and the public profile of LAFs with their constituencies
- Resource issues
- Linking to the healthy walking agenda
- Varied ways of working within the LAFs
- Varying the times and days of the week for meetings to get more participation
- Celebrating the achievements of the LAFs
- Induction and training for new LAF members
- How to get elected members to attend LAF meetings
- How to reach non-members of organisations and ensure responsible access by all
- How to help access officers to do their jobs better
- Issues relating to nature conservation and access
We received 33 feedback forms. The evaluation was overwhelmingly positive in terms of the venue, location, catering and organisation, although it was noted that those hard of hearing had difficulty in following the proceedings.
All sessions were found to be useful with respondents also expressing that the event had been interesting, informative and entertaining and that they had enjoyed the opportunity to network and meet different users and different LAF members.
A number of useful suggestions were made regarding topics and speakers for any future event, and the majority of people were keen for this type of event to be repeated.