News

Statement

The Forest of Dean District Horse Riders & Carriage Drivers Association

has been established to improve facilities and access for equestrian activities in the Forest of Dean and district.

We intend providing a voice for equestrianism in the area, promoting access to the forest, bridleways and other riding and driving opportunities.

Horse riding and carriage driving are traditional features of forest and country life, but their needs, such as suitable tracks, road crossings etc., have been poorly understood and badly catered for.  This is because there has never been a body able to put forward the views and needs of the local equestrian community.

The Association will only get the attention of the Forestry Commision, Local Councils and funding bodies, if it is seen to be representative of people involved in equestrian activity in the area.

  The Association plans to survey issues concerning the community, hold annual meetings and send out newsletters

Working with Forest of Dean Riding Club we are helping them on a range of issues including access to May Hill in the North of the District, discussions with the Forestry Commission on a closed stone track that riders had used in the past, and the possibility of opening up a new right of way across farmland with the farmer's support. More on this as the discussions proceed

Latest News

 

September 2013

Changes to Gloucester County Council PROW

An open letter has been sent on behalf of members regarding the proposed changes at Gloucestershire County Council which would mean that public rights of way such as bridleways and footpaths would be included within "Highways" and probably become the "Cinderella" part of that huge structure. It is not too late for individuals to write and express their concerns..... every letter or email counts.

Here is a copy of this letter to john.lane@gloucestershire.gov.uk

Dear John

I would appreciate you bringing to the attention of Gloucestershire Council members the concern felt by members of our Horse Riding and Carriage Driving group about the inclusion of the PROW contract within the commissioning process for the highway maintenance in the future.

Our concern is at several levels :-

1. That the budget for PROW is relatively tiny against the huge costs and potential profits to be made from the road contract and is therefore likely to be of less interest to the successful organisation winning the contract.

Our experience of raising bridleway issues in Herefordshire was that it was very difficult to get past the first "wall" of dis-information and get to talk to knowledgeable people.

2. That a lot of expertise and knowledge about the area resides within local contractors and this could be lost if the winning bidder uses their own people. And probably be more costly and therefore achieve less.

3. That at a local level we have established very good working relationships with staff from the PROW which make for efficient and effective working together which is very important to voluntary groups such as ours. Even if this "relationship maintenance" is written into the new contract, it will not be a seamless process and all of the practical and on-the ground benefits could be lost to the County and to users of the rights of way. If our experience in Herefordshire is replicated in Gloucestershire, it is unlikely that members of our group could consistently find the energy to follow through on particular issues.

4. That the Greenways Project  with its associated tourism and economic benefits for the Forest of Dean District could be damaged as we consider taking the project forward to link to the refurbished bridge at Redbrook and then into Monmouthshire. Tourism is important to the District and we wonder if this aspect has been taken into account in the commissioning process. 

 

 

 

22 August 2013

Greenway officially opened!

A crowd gathers to celebrate the official opening of the Forest of Dean Greenways Project. Holding the ribbon are (left) Alan Myatt, Town Crier and (right) Erice Rye, FODHR&CDA committee member. Also pictured (back right) is Sue Johnson with horse Toby.

New Gloucestershire Horse Trails Launched

An impressive new network of horse riding trails across the Forest of Dean was officially opened on Thursday 22nd August by representatives of the British Horse Society and the many local agencies who have contributed to its successful development.

These routes, called the Forest of Dean Greenways, link up new bridleways, existing Public Rights of Way, Forestry Commission tracks and quiet country lanes to form a series of inter-connected circuits for horse riders, leisure cyclists and walkers and, where possible, carriage drivers.

Four linked Greenway circuits have been created, extending from Dymock in the north of the district to Blakeney and Yorkley in the south, and they connect up with many local towns, villages and rural businesses as well as with accommodation providers, tourist attractions and equestrian centres in order to maximise the project’s benefit to the local economy.

The four Greenway routes comprise:

The most southerly, and the longest section of this network, the Blakeney Greenway and Carriage Driving Circuit, is a spectacular twelve and a half mile long figure of eight horse riding and carriage driving route which is almost entirely off-road and is also suitable for para-carriage drivers.

This project has been undertaken by the Forest of Dean and District Horse Riders’ and Carriage Drivers’ Association (FODADHRACDA), a group of local people who set out as far back as 2005 to improve the fragmented Higher Rights of Way network in the Forest of Dean district and to secure greater access to the Gloucestershire countryside. It is the only project of its kind in the UK to have been delivered by a voluntary organisation.

Jenny Carling, Chair of the Forest of Dean and District Horse Riders’ and Carriage Drivers’ Association, commented “My first task is to thank the Forest of Dean Local Action Group and the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust who provided the grant aid that enabled this project to be taken forward. We are also indebted to the staff of the Forestry Commission and the Gloucestershire County Council’s Public Rights of Way team who have supported us every step of the way. Our ambition was to secure better access to the beautiful countryside of the Forest of Dean and we therefore invite local residents and visitors to the district to use our website – www.fodgreenways.co.uk – to find out more about these routes and then experience them for themselves.”

The project was officially launched at the start of the Blakeney Greenway and Carriage Driving Circuit by Heather Clatworthy, Senior Executive, Access and Rights of Way Department at the British Horse Society.

Further Information

 

 

July 2013

Greenway Project

The work on the Greenways Project in the Forest of Dean and district is nearing its conclusion.  The Forest of Dean Greenway network aligns to the international Greenways movement, defined by Natural England as “largely off-road routes connecting people to facilities and open spaces in and around towns, cities and the countryside ... for use by people on foot, bike or horseback, for commuting, play or leisure”.  These tracks, where they go over FC land are in addition to the stoned tracks that the FC already allows for equestrian use.  The route is to help visitors to the area, or people who live here, but do not know their way around the many tracks. The Forest of Dean Greenways will provide four circuits which can be linked using existing lanes and bridleways together with new permanent routes across private land. The longest of these circuits will also be suitable for carriage drivers. We are still negotiating how the keyed access will be managed for those carriage drivers not wishing to take out a year's subscription for the use of a key.

The small voluntary Forest of Dean & District Horse Riders & Carriage Drivers Association has worked tirelessly since its inception in 2006.  A grant was raised from EU Rural Development Programme and Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, which has paid for all the work done - new routes, gates, fencing, compensation to private landowners, project manager and contractors.  The Association has not benefitted financially in any way.

THANK YOU to all of you who have sent in subs over the years, we have very much appreciated your support.

 

 

June 2013

Update on William Reddaway's Ride Round England

Here is the latest newsletter about William and Strider's escapade across England -

'

Ride Round England

12 June 2013

Newsletter No. 4:

This is dated 12 June but its being rewritten a week later as I cannot find a way of getting the earlier version to “send” off the tablet or a way of converting whatever it thinks it is written in to something I can open on another device .........

I will try and get this written and sent today and follow it up in a couple of days with another chunk of the story. Meanwhile, for those who just want to know what the current position is, we have:

Yes, we set off from the Yard on 10 May, but before that some news of the previous 2 weeks: On Friday 26 April Eleanor Clarke came to check his back and said she felt he was lame in the hind legs. John Codner the vet came that afternoon and suffice it to say that before we set out, and after over 12 hours of my time, we felt the problem was dealt with. He had also been reshod with concussion pads in his shoes. I also had some unplanned family things which took another couple of days.

The last few days of sorting stuff were a bit frantic. In particular I had not given myself enough time to put maps into bundles for posting, so triming off the sections not needed and sorting them out was a trifle slapdash ............ of which more later. And as you will have noticed there was no Newsletter, nor were documents put up on the Cloud for later use, or email addresses all made similarly available for use when my laptop would not be with me. But Strider WAS tacked up and loaded to go that Friday morning and we set off to farewells from friends at the Yard, escorted by Marilyn on Marji who came with us the first bit over the Common. By 4.20 we were at Farncombe after a ride in a strong breeze that was unsettling for both of us. Strider had a field and I had a comfortable bedroom. That evening I had the chance to catch up with many of my friends, staff and students, at Farncombe which was lovely.

Saturday 11 May we were tacked up and ready by 12 noon as people arrived for the send off at Foxhill Manor. Thankyou to all those who came from the BHS, RDA, FHA, WSPC, PC UK and friends supporters and family. I was, predictably, ready before time and we waited for a phone call from Kate Justice on BBC Radio Glouestershire by riding round and round the gravel sweep in front of the Manor. And then OFF. On a windy afternoon we were well buffetted for the 10 miles to Alderton via Dumbleton Hill and on arrival, as we untacked, had a 10 minute lashing by horizontal hailstones. Thankyou Gareth and Mel for generous hospitality.

Sunday 12th we headed for Sandhurst, just north of Gloucester. Our first few miles were on routes close to home but Strider did not protest as we passed all of the places where we might have turned for home. At the Odessa Crossing on the A38 I remembered the time spent getting the traffic lights reset to recognise horses coming on the Sabrina Way from the cul de sac on the west. At Deerhurst the gate to the track opposite Odda’s Chapel was chained and padlocked, though it is a “road”. I took the gate off its hinges and replaced it when we were through. The bridleway was mostly passable though a fallen tree meant going up the steep bank at the side, followed by that big horse doing his neat imitation of a mountain goat. Good Boy! We got into Sandhurst at 4.15 with me leading the last couple of miles – good for both of us. Thankyou Peter and Julie for putting us up.

Monday 13 May was into Gloucester for our first cathedral. Arrived early but friends were already there. Thankyou for the support and to Steve for walking him around the Close when he got bored. I went in and felt thoroughly tearful at having got started. I spent some moments at the Imjim Cross and at Tom Denny’s windows in the Trahearne Chapel, and braced myself for a long way to go. Leaving Gloucester was up the dual carriageway over the big bridge, round the roundabout on the ring road and along the busy single track road to Maisemore reflecting on the fact that down by the river there is a safe cyclepath alongside all that stretch – and horses must stay on the road and dice with the traffic! A brilliant bit of legislation there. I was joined by Stef for a mile when I came off the bridleway at Hartpury. Thankyou Stef. Then gently on to near Dymock. Thankyou Vaness for putting us up. Total 60 miles done.

14 May was a long day. I missed a turning in a wood and wasted time and miles. Then wriggled west via Kempley to Hoarwithy Bridge and tunred north to Hereford. As the day went on the rain got heavier and we got wetter. We came in through busy rush hour traffic for a couple of miles. Then I dismounted and led in through a lot more traffic. Arm out and do our imitation of a 20 ton lorry changing lane and turning right. I run and he trots as traffic lights turn green. Eventually over the big bridge and into quieter streets. Overnight Strider is in a field with cows. I am 400 yards away staying with old friends in a house filled with soggy and horse smelly stuff in front of radiators. 9.00 pm I go to check Strider. The cows have gone through the fence onto a road and he is standing still and cold under his rug. Someone sorts out the cows and I move him into a shed where he is more miserable and at 10.0 I have the vet out for possible colic. It is still raining but the vet is reassuring and I go out again to check him after midnight. S is not happy but is warmer and fine. Its bedtime.

15 May, first stop at the Cathedral. Several friends and family are there with bucket collectors organised by Rob Soutar -  thankyou. I go into the chapel of St Thomas of Hereford and before we set off prayers are said in the Close for horses in general and Strider in particular. Rob guides me out through pedestrianised alleys and the marketplace onto the right road. Later me meets me with his bicycle and I have company for several miles. Its 24 miles through gentle countryside to The Elms School at Colwall. We arrive at 5.25 to a wonderful welcome and Strider gets a warm water wash and a big stable. The school has a farm unit and pupils ponies etc. I am a guest of the HM and his wife – another huge thankyou.

16 May the whole school turns out to see us off, and then I am clock watching for being at Worcester on time. Its a lovely start up an old road and along bridleways before some busy road and the bridleway that seems to have disappeared, but I find I am in the right place when I get back onto a lane. We keep going on busy roads and have time for Strider to graze before doing the multi-lane loops around and onto the bridge over the river and off again. Plenty of traffic and Strider brilliantly steady. At the Cathedral he fidgets until his bucket of lunch is ready. Another big thankyou to friends, the Dean and Cathedral staff for my welcome. We find S has twisted a hind shoe so I take it off and fit a boot in its place – get it right 2nd time. We go off down the mainroad heading southeast, pass County Hall and onto a bridleway that takes you straight over a dual-carriageway. Luckily traffic is light as we scuttle across. The bridleway takes me miles along good tracks and then gives me 20 yards thoroughly overgrownto fight through to reach the road. The last few miles are in evening traffic leading along the road and getting a call from BBC Radio Worcestershire. I reach Linda’s at 6.10pm after 22 miles. The farrier calls to look at the problem and will return next day.

17 May. We only set off at 4.00pm as the farrier has other work to do before he can do us. Linda and family continue generous hospitality to S and me. Heading for Mickleton and 2 rest days, I shorten the route and go through Evesham which means I bump into people I know and Ellie tells Charley who comes looking for us with her girls and gets him a bucket of water at Badsey. He wont drink but munches the verge. Its dark for the last few miles and we come along deserted and peaceful lanes with our lights flashing. Arrive after 10pm and another 22 miles. Strider is in a stable he has stayed in before. 155 miles completed.

18 & 19 May are rest days and Keith helps me try to get email addresses off Outlook and onto iPhone. We fail and then discover it cant be done! Like every electricity company had a different size of plug and no adaptors could be used ...........

I will get more out tomorrow and try to close the news gap. Meanwhile, do please pass this Newsletter on to other people who might be interested, and tell them to email me to be added to the list.

And if you google ride round England, Strider and William you will find there is stuff in various newspapers and magazines.

Thankyou

William

Remember: The aim is to raise £250,000 for the Family Holiday Association and Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. Feel free to go straight to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=rideroundengland and get out your plastic, or tell someone else about it ....................

 

williamreddaway@gmail.com                       www.rideroundengland.org
http://www.facebook.com/rideroundengland           https://twitter.com/riderndengland
https://www.facebook.com/StriderTheHorseTravellingRoundEngland

 

 

 

March 2013

 

 

 

 

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February 2013

 

 

Before and after pictures of one of the tracks that are currently being upgraded to bridleway status

 

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January 2013

Dear Friends

I am attaching an invitation to the Gloucestershire Launch of the Ride on the evening of 24 January. I hope you will be able to come and hear about the plans and the preparations. Whether you are able to come on the 24th or not, would you please tell other people about it? We want to get a really good crowd!

The Ride will start from Farncombe Estate, near Broadway, on Saturday 11 May and I hope Strider and I may be home by the end of November!

Best wishes William Reddaway

A Ride Round England Ltd is a Company limited by Guarantee registered in England and Wales No 7272049. Registered office: 46 Prestbury Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 2DA. Tel 07798 935100

 

October 2012

 

 

Although the above progress updates make it sound straightforward, this project has certainly had its moments!  It has been and continues to be a very steep learning curve for us all. Your committee would particularly like to thank our Project Manager, Philip Cooke, who has been an inspiration throughout and continues to go that extra mile for us all.

 

Your committee hope that you will continue to support us in this demanding project by
renewing your membership – still only £5 p.a., and or sending a donation for our funds, by:


1)         going online with your bank, our A/c name with Lloyds Bank is ‘FOD DHR CDA’, Sort Code 30-95-29, A/c No. 02892906, marking the transfer “Membership”


2)         or, send a cheque payable to: “FODHR&CDA”  to  The Secretary, Rose Cottage, Church Walk, Viney Hill, Glos GL15 4NY

 

THANK YOU FOR CONTINUING TO SUPPORT THE GREENWAY PROJECT PROVIDING SAFE OFF ROAD RIDING & CARRIAGE DRIVING IN THE FOREST OF DEAN & DISTRICT

 

This project is part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2013: Europe investing in rural areas. This project is being delivered through the South West of England Regional Development Agency with Defra as the Managing Authority.

 

 

 

 

September 2012

 

We are still working towards achieving a 21-yr agreement for a way marked route in various areas of the forest as defined in our project. This in no way limits equestrians to just these routes. As we had reported earlier, we had hoped to get these specific routes designated for all time but were told by the FC that this was not possible for legal reasons. This view was challenged and Richard Benyon MP Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries has stated that the FC on behalf of the Secretary of State, is able to dedicate rights of way on the public forest estate. He goes on to say " I am sorry if any impression was given to the contrary". However, his letter goes on to point out that the FC will wish to consider such a proposal in relation to other users and the wider operational uses of the forest.

Our funders have this month agreed to a 21-yr period as being suitable in lieu of a dedication so we will be going back to the FC shortly to move this situation ahead.

August 2012

We have been working hard to get our Greenways Project off the ground since being granted financial support by both The Local Action Group of the FODDC and Gloucestershire Environmental Trust. For those of you reading this who have never been involved in such a project a word of warning..........it can take over your life!

Currently the project is on hold whilst an Agreement is worked out with the Forestry Commission. During the Feasibility Stage of the project we had understood the FC to say that they would dedicate the routes over their land as a "forever" public bridleway (rather like that which exists for walkers). However, that is no longer on the table for discussion and affects our original bid to funders. So back we have to go with revisions to the contracts we have signed with funders to allow for this change and we cannot go ahead until that is approved by them; hopefully by early September.

Don't forget to renew your membership - only £5 p.a. - and as this route is going to benefit so many non-members of our Association, cyclists as well as horse riders/carriage drivers, we hope you will feel able to contribute to our funds to keep this voluntary work going

 

 

Sustrans' plans for the Wye Valley Railway path

You may have seen recent local press suggesting that Sustrans' plans for the Wye Valley Railway path have been abandoned. We're happy to report this is completely untrue. Despite making the difficult decision to reallocate lottery funds to other Connect2 scheme, Sustrans are currently compiling further technical information and reports requested by Monmouthshire County Council in order to progress the planning application to the decision phase (planning ref: DC/2010/00783). Once planning has been obtained Sustrans will be in a position to consider options to raise funds for the project.

In the mean time, the following item which may be of interest:

The Welsh Government has opened a consultation on the Active Travel (Wales) Bill, which proposes legislation requiring Welsh local authorities to be more proactive in supporting walking and cycling routes. We believe this is a positive development and encourage you to have your say.

Riders in that area that Sustrans included ridden horses in their application BUT local riders should keep an eye on what is happening and perhaps respond to the Welsh Government consultation .... yet again equestrians are left out of the discussion!

 

 

 

 

March 2012

New Greenways Project Launch

The planned Greenways Project for a multi user trail for riders, carriage drivers, cyclists and walkers will be launched on

March 30th at Mitcheldean Community Centre at 1.30pm.

The Forest of Dean Riders and Carriage Drivers Association (FODRCDA) will introduce the new Project manager Phillip Cooke, who worked on the Project’s feasibility study in 2010/11. This study, which obtained funding from Forest of Dean Local Action, part of the RDPE programme for England, investigated the extent to which public rights of way throughout the FODD could be linked together to provide a more cohesive network of routes for all non-motorised users. It also identified where links could be made in the network with the support of private landowners and the Forestry Commission.


This event will provide an opportunity for people to talk with the Association members about the route and to find out how a similar project in Monmouthshire is progressing. There will be brief presentations from a panel on the day and plenty of time for questions.


Members of the FODRCDA, who have been working for several years on mapping the route, realised that the CROW Act gives free and permanent access to walkers but no such safeguards were in place for cyclists and equestrians. The project aims from the start were to secure permanent rights of way for them as well.


At a late stage in the bidding process we were asked to reduce our bid by the Forest of Dean District Council  (FODDC) and the Local Action Group (LAG) and so the map from the feasibility study has been revised and the route amended.  The proposed routes have been selected to maximise the economic benefit of the project and promote the district as a national centre for outdoor recreation using experiences gained from other similar projects.


Several private landowners have generously consented to the creation of new rights of way across their land and the Forestry Commission together with Gloucestershire County Council  public rights of way team have been involved throughout the investigative stages and continue to work with the Association on the Greenways Route.

 Mitcheldean has been chosen as a location as it is fairly central within the project's scope and within the district as a whole.

Project part financed by the European Agricultural Fund for European Development 2007-2012: Europe investing in rural areas.
This project is being delivered through the South West of England Regional Development Agency with Defra as the Managing Authority

 

 

 

Motorbikes in the Forest

There is a real danger to horse riders and drivers in the Forest from illegal motorbike riders. Motorbikes are forbiidden on Forestry Commission land and bridleways. However, this does not deter some individuals from causing mayhem in the countryside.

Please do report all instances of motorbike encounters. The police WILL be sympathetic to your complaints and they must give you an incident number when they log your call. The more incidents they receive, the more they will follow up. Even if the motorbike has no registration number, the police would want to know the colour of the motorbike, the colour of the rider's clothes and helmet and the area where the encounter took place. Planning of future joint operations between the Forestry Commission and the police will take reported 'hot spots', where incidents have been recorded into account in targetting stings.

The Forestry Commission is also interested in following up complaints of illegal motorbike usage.

The Crimestoppers number: is 0800 555111.  Put the number on your mobile whilst out riding!

 

February 2012

 

Gritting Lorries

Have you had a problem with gritting lorries? A rider was strafed by a gritting lorry so all three Glos Highways Managers were emailed.

Basically, they do not think there's much else gritter drivers can do, as they have to keep moving consistently at c. 20 mph, they cannot turn off flashing lights unless there is no other traffic around, and cannot turn off the grit spreader at all - they were referred to Highway Code Rules 114, 204, 214, 215...and they did come back saying they could see the point, and it would be mentioned to drivers at the next briefing.

However, we now have information as to how it is possible to check which minor roads will be gritted via their Twitter pages: @gloshighways  - or by phoning 08000514514

The rider who was strafed (who was sure the gritter was going much faster than 20 mph!) has been advised to log the incident on the BHS Accidents website.

If you do find anyone has had a problem with gritters, it could be helpful if they'd log it to the BHS Accidents website or contact lois_eyre@hotmail.com

 

 

January 2012

With the GET grant already won and now the funding from the LAG and with the work that Jenny has been involved in with Natural England, the project can now move forward. Jenny has given many, many hours to this project to keep it afloat. She really has worked tirelessly and we own her a HUGE VOTE OF THANKS.

To those who have not renewed your membership, PLEASE do so, it’s only £5 and it really does help. Also, it goes to show that we do have lots of members in the Forest of Dean and District who ride or carriage drive horses, who are interested enough in the project to achieve more safe off road tracks for US ALL to use. Cheques please, to Rose Cottage, Church Walk, Viney Hill, GL15 4NY (payable to FODHR&CDA).

 

Forest of Dean District Council Local Action Group

Great News! We have been awarded partial funding for our bridleways project - The Greenways Project - by the Forest of Dean Local Action Group (LAG) . Their £75k plus £15k already obtained from Gloucestershire Environmental Trust will allow us to start on what we believe is an important project for everyone in the locality.

We expect to sign contracts in February and hope to have a Project Manager in place for a March start. At the moment we are frantically checking details to make sure that the figures and expectations being placed upon us are correct. The last few months have been very busy for us as the LAG suddenly requested before Christmas that we state what we could achieve with a grant of about a quarter of what we originally had been negotiating for. We countered that suggestion with a detailed explanation of what we could achieve for more than that but less than our original bid and still attain the economic benefits to the region. If you don't ask you don't get! And we "got"!!

The effect of this reduced funding is that we have had to leave some parts of the route for a later time......... if we have the energy to bid for more funding. So if any member has experience of bidding for public monies and is willing to do so then we can give you all the facts you will need to get going......... and we even have a potential funder lined up!

 

December 2011

Forest Forum

Forest of Dean Winter Forum – 7 December 2011

This evening meeting was attended by Erica Rye and Kathy Reynolds, representing the FOD Horse Riders and Carriage Drivers Assn. Thirty two other people were in attendance representing other interests within the Forest district.  Kevin Stannard, Deputy Surveyor, was the main speaker.

Conservation Proposals:

Consultations are in progress with reference to a trial grazing proposals in Crabtree Hill which it is proposed to return to a heathland site;  Clearwell Meend is a community site and the most controversial and Mosely Green, which would be the easiest site to manage.  The impacts and benefits of these proposals need discussions and agreements would need to be sought with local neighbours and the graziers, HM Verderers and Enclosure  Commissioners  because of proposed fence lines.  The project is moving forward, but a long way to putting up the first fence.  Cattle and ponies have different methods of feeding to sheep and when the land has been cleared the sheep will be returned.  Hardy breeds of animals are needed for this job.  The FC is to inherit 80 long horn cattle, which are to be run as a commercial venture.

The FC wants to work with the commoners to bring in new younger sheep badgers to run sheep and cattle to keep the tradition of grazing in the forest.

Wild Boar Management:

The revised draft plan is in its final stage and is now with HM Verderers for their approval. The target to cull 150 was achieved in September, plus 6 road kill accidents. The cull figure was set in March based on the best survey available, but the FC does not know for sure how many boars are at large within the forest.  Using night vision survey equipment, the first run through has been completed.  The conclusion is that this survey technique system is not working, as only 16 have been detected this way.  Two more surveys are to be completed, but  the scientists say this system is not appropriate for surveying the wild boar! The current estimate is that there is between 300 and 350, although this number is strongly disputed by many and the population can treble every year. The FC is committed to transparency on this issue and an independent observer joined the survey in November.  The results will be made public once the three surveys have been completed.  The FC wants to manage the numbers so that the forest community do not suffer excessively by their presence.

Recreation Strategy:

There are 150 car parking areas in the Forest, but only Mallards Pike, Beechenhurst, Cannock Ponds and Symonds Yat have parking areas to be paid for.  Wenchford will also be added to this list, as toilets are provided and have to be maintained.  There is an urgent need to get people to spend more money in the forest.  There is discussion as to which areas do the FC invest in to employ people to encourage tourism?  The signage at hub sites is to be refreshed as there are benefits of joining up the different marketing brands.   This will be undertaken by the FC design team, thus avoiding expensive consultancy costs.

FC Reorganization:

Reorganization has been necessary to meet the financial challenge the Government has set the FC.  By 2015 the scale, remit and approach has to fit the amount of money the FC have in the future.  Funding has been reduced by 25%.  2010/11 there were 872 full time employees; in 2012/15 this will  be reduced to 661 by reducing management and admin staff.  West England Forest District will be born on 2 April 2012, from Birmingham and Shrewbury to Land’s End.  The main office will be based in Coleford with a sub-office in Exeter. 

Open Forum:

The meeting was then opened to the floor when further discussions took place on the above subjects.