The Borough of Bedford Local Access Forum is looking for new members. All Local Authorities are required by the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 to establish a Local Access Forum to provide strategic advice on ‘the improvement of public access to land in that area for the purposes of open air recreation and enjoyment of the area’. Following its creation in 2009 Bedford Borough Council decided to support a Forum for the geographical area of the Borough of Bedford. This forum is known as the ‘Borough of Bedford Local Access Forum (BoBLAF)’. As the Forum’s advice guides policies and actions of Bedford Borough Council it is vital that the Forum represents a wide range of interests and is balanced between the wish to increase access and the need to protect the landscape and its economic use. Having this wide spread of countryside interests represented at the Forum means that the LAFs can offer balanced and sustainable recommendations to the Local Authority and other organisations. The BoBLAF is short of specific members. Whilst walking is well represented we only have one horse rider, one farmer and one member representing the visually impaired. Landowners, cyclists and motorised users are not currently represented. The BoBLAF need extra members in all of these fields. The BoBLAF meet in the evenings at Borough Hall, Bedford 3-4 times a year and each meeting lasts about 2-3 hours. Recent submissions / advice provided to organisations related to East West Rail, Bedford Borough Local Plan, Oxford – Cambridge Expressway, Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet new road, Borough Neighbourhood Plans and the Borough’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan. The LAF has also commented on the process of managing the Rights of Way network, looking at temporary closure notices (and how the closed period might be minimised), diversions, and how new paths could be created especially as a benefit of new development. If you are interested in helping formulate advice to Bedford Borough Council on protecting the economic use of the countryside whilst improving access to it and helping them get the most benefit from their limited budget then please contact the BoBLAF secretary via email: BoBLAF.Secretary@bedford.gov.uk
Whilst the Borough appoints members, in order to get this cross section of views, the members themselves are independent of the Borough. Oh and the positions are voluntary! The only things you are likely to get in return for your participation is a cup of tea or coffee at the meeting plus the knowledge that you have contributed to making a difference in the preservation / improvements to the countryside and Borough residents access to it.