We advise and work with the managers and occupiers of land, and the five local authorities across Tyne and Wear, to encourage them to enable, and where necessary, improve access for cyclists,horseriders, walkers, wheelchair users and others, who may have mobility problems to access our rich variety of countryside, coast and urban environments. We aim to promote access to our paths and byways in rural and urban areas, as well as our magnificent coastline. We also aim to gain an understanding of the specific problems people may face in using them, and the owners have in maintaining them.
The Local Access Forum was set up in 2003 following the enactment of the Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000. Local Access Forum comprises of appointed members to represent the users of local rights of way, byways and paths, or the owners or occupiers of the land they cross. We have access to the Rights of Way Officers in each of the five local authorities and they also attend and report to meetings, which are held four times a year.
In carrying our functions we have need to have regard to the needs of land management and the desirability of conserving the natural beauty of our area, including its flora, geological and physiographical features.
Activities and achievements
- The Forum contributed to the first Tyne & Wear Rights of Way Improvement Plan and Equestrian Strategy in 2006 and to the
revised Plan in 2010.
- The Forum has contributed to public consultations relating to Forum members have attended public events such as the Gateshead Flower Show and South Tyneside Countryside Festival, to engage with the public and spread the word about the Forum's role and activities
- Lobbied for safer crossings of major roads for rights of way users, leading to improved crossings being installed across the region eg Watergate Pegasus Crossing, Gateshead
- Won two national awards for our rights of way network - Best Horse Riding Award and Best Local Access Forum Involvement
The Regulations require forums to have at least 10 and a maximum of 22 members, and that these should be people who are representative of:
a) users of local rights of way or open access land (eg walkers, horse riders, cyclists and carriage drivers)
b) owners and occupiers of access land or land over which local rights of way subsist
c) any other interests especially relevant to the appointing authority's area
Forum members are appointed for between 1 and 3 years and may be reappointed at the end of their term