Leeds Group Annual Report – November2017
The Leeds Group committee has met four times in the year, with considerable activity between meetings. There has been a regular and varied walks programme and committee members have been in frequent and positive contact with Public Right of Way officers from Leeds City Council. Work carried out by committee members has kept the Group solvent and efficiently run.
Leeds Group walks are published in the West Riding Area Walks Programme, which is also on the West Riding and the Leeds Group websites. There have been planned walks near to home in the Leeds area and also further afield. The walks have varied in length between 5 and 10 miles at both a leisurely and faster pace. These are popular days out and are appreciated by members, discovering new locations led by our experienced leaders.
Committee members have attended various other meetings including the Local Access Forum and extensive dialogue exists with PRoW officers. Footpath and countryside matters, as always, have been important areas for focus throughout the year. Contact with council officials takes place on a regular basis. Particularly footpath and countryside matters can be protracted and time-consuming.
There are committee vacancies for chair and publicity. This is an opportunity for one of our Leeds Group members to extend the work and the successes of the Leeds Group. Committee meetings are held in the centre of Leeds, with dates of meetings on the Group website. Members are warmly encouraged to come and observe proceedings with an option to seek nomination to the committee during the year.
Leeds Group members helped to assist with a national Ramblers Roadshow training day which was held at The Rose Bowl. The programmed walks would appear to be well attended and on a good day there can be well over twenty people attending. Current membership at the end of September 2017 was 541.
Both Lee Davidson and Mike Willison had secured maps of the HS2 route and of the parts of the footpath network affected and intended to look at them to see the effects on the network and to think of the best solutions. As well as the HS2 issue Lee Davidson (Footpath Officer) had been involved with other issues. The vast majority of proposed changes to the network had been uncontroversial but not all. There was even a welcome extinguishment, when a stretch of footpath running through several gardens and under houses in Rothwell was at last eradicated. It should have been dealt with years ago but a developer hadn’t actually got on with doing the extinguishment which he had promised the new house owners. On the other side of the coin a Ramblers colleague found that one of Douglas Cossar’s walks (see Ramblers’ Leeds – Volume Two: West Of Leeds) which was quite walkable a decade ago was now full of problems because paths had been cropped without restoration.
We have a valuable footpath network, but it needs to be watched carefully, especially as funds for maintenance are hit by cuts. Often the existence of paths is not clear because signs which should mark them are missing or damaged. For the past two years the Leeds Group has made substantial donations to improve signage, but there is a long way to go.
Carl Richman Secretary
Walks Co ordinator
Another sucessful year. We no longer have the big groups that were quite normal a few years ago. One memorable bank holiday monday I led a group of 65! & 30 to 40 wasn't exceptional. I think most walkers agree that a group can simply be too big.
We do now have more walks. It's less of a one size to fit all & our walks programme is more flexible than many other groups. In our printed Summer programme from 1st May to 31st October we had 31 walks. We actually ended up with 49. Some were alternatives to our Saturday walks & others were extra mid week walks. You all should have received the printed winter programme by now. I'm sure that we will again have more walks added.
Our walks programme depends entirely on our volunteer walk leaders. It is thanks to them that we have this varied programme of walks. We cannot have too many leaders. The more leaders we have the better & more varied our walks programme will be. So why not give it a try? Leading a walk is actually fun & gives a sense of achievement.
Leeds is fortunate in having a large membership & as funding is distributed on a per member basis we get a quite substantial sum per year but our expenses are no more than a smaller group. All our committee members & walk leaders are volunteers. Our major expense is hiring a room for our meetings. This means that we can easily acquire a higher bank balance than we need. As a charity we should not have more funds than are necessary for our normal day to day activities.
At the beginning of the year we had £1901 in the bank. This was far too much so a donation was made to Leeds City Council of £1,500 on condition that they matched this money & used it for improving footpath signing. Councils are responsible for the signs and the cost. In the real world councils are strapped for cash so we must take a pragmatic view.
Our bank balance is now £903. This is more than sufficient for the next twelve months even after paying for the AGM buffet so we will be waving receipt of our usual £600+ in January 2018. If there is a project that needs funding then West Riding Area treasurer has indicated tha he would look favourably on any requests for extra cash.
As at 30.9.2017 we had 541 members. This compares with 561 last year. We have had 40 new members during the year so we have lost 60. Declining membership is a national issue. As membership secretary I contact all new members by email or letter. Most are happy to be added to my email list
Peter Sweeney Walks Co ordinator, Treasurer & Membership Secretary