Local Access Forums advise decision making organisations like the Local Authority about making improvements to the provision of access to rights of way and green spaces in their local area. The LAFs can set their own priorities depending on local issues and what is of interest to the group members, as well as responding to consultations and draft policy documents.
The group is made up from a range of different people from the local community representing landowners/managers, access users (such as walkers, cyclists and horse riders) and other interests (such as health and conservation) All of them are volunteers. They get together and provide a balanced view about access issues and priorities affecting the local area or which might influence national policy.
Local Access Forums were established by an act of parliament and are governed by a set of regulations which you can find on the Defra website.
Yes, LAFs are always looking for new members. Why don’t you contact your local access forum secretary: (26kb) and express your interest. They will inform you when vacancies appear, usually once a year.
New members are appointed by the Highway authority or National Park Authority.
Why don’t you attend one of the public meetings in your area to see what sort of activities they undertake?
All the meetings are advertised via the Appointing Authority websites and many are included in the local press. There are usually two or three meetings a year although some Forums have topic groups which can meet more regularly.
As the meetings are public anyone can attend as an observer. Although you would not be allowed to ask questions during the meeting you could wait till the meeting was over and then speak to the LAF members.
Local authorities have a duty under the Act to establish local access forums. Funding for this has been provided directly by the Government through the normal local authority funding processes.
Members are unpaid volunteers although they may be reimbursed for travel and subsistence costs, or for expenses incurred in the care of children or dependents.
DEFRA has produced guidance on the role and responsibilities of LAFs.
Natural England commissioned the production of an online Handbook for Local Access Forums: (2mb) which provides detailed information on the establishment, running, scope and procedures involved in a successful Forum.
To find your local Forum, use our internet pages and search under the local area.