Minutes of Ramblers Association Doncaster Group
Annual General Meeting – Saturday October 22nd 2016
7.00pm Finningley Village Hall
Attendance: David Gadd, Pamela Gadd, Peter Gravestock, David Horne, Cynthia Elvidge, Jim Elvidge, Wendy Atkinson, Keith Staines, Sandra Staines, Keith Skelton, Bob Carlisle, Catherine Palmer, Eileen Johnston, Brian Milne, Julie Milne, Pauline Harvey, Philomena Nicholls, Owen Evans, Gabriel Czigamy, Martin Vincent and Martin Wyman.
Apologies: Tony Marsh, Dave Binnington, Dennis Neale, Kerry Forman, Tony Liversidge and Maureen Forshaw.
Appointment of tellers: postponed until required.
Approval of minutes of the 2015 AGM: Proposed: Bob Carlisle. Seconded: David Gadd. Approved by the meeting.
Matters arising from the 2015 AGM: There were no matters arising.
Chair’s annual report.
From David Gadd
It was Doncaster Ramblers turn to host the Area AGM this year. It was held in Tickhill and all nine Groups in the South Yorkshire and North east Derbyshire Area of Ramblers were represented. One important agenda item agreed was a clarification of the role of Area Council. This subject arose from attempts by Central Office to re-define governance, an attempt which was heavily defeated at General Council in April. There were two guest speakers at the AGM, Mike Rhodes, Access and Rights of Way manager of the Peak District National Park, and Alex Mannings, Ramblers Honorary Treasurer.
Doncaster Ramblers membership currently stands at 227, a slight drop from three years ago when we had 234 members. This decline in membership is happening to almost all the old-established Groups throughout the country, with only the younger Groups showing increases in numbers. In our Area, for example, the Sheffield 20s Group has increased from 226 to 254 and the Sheffield 40s Group from 179 to 236 in that same 3-year period. The reasons for the overall decline in the membership of Ramblers have been discussed many times. The most likely reason is that there are so many other walking groups and other activities for people to do. The pity is that other walking groups don’t at least affiliate to Ramblers, and thus support us in the Rights of Way work that we do - keeping footpaths open with maintenance work and taking legal action when necessary. It is an irony that many Groups, including Doncaster, have never been more successful in producing a full walks programme and supporting the local council in the maintenance of footpaths, and yet membership declines.
The Group’s walking programme this year has been excellent, with the normal Saturday and Tuesday walks throughout the year being supported by the Wednesday evening summer walks and the Thursday public transport walks. In the summer programme we experimented with a longer moderate/strenuous walk every third Tuesday of the month being followed by a shorter walk on the Thursday. The committee has reviewed this addition to the walks programme and decided to continue with it in the summer programme for 2017.
Christmas lunches in 2015 were well-supported and organised, with many members enjoying a walk and then Christmas lunch at the New Inn, Stainforth, for the Tuesday walks, and at Marr Lodge for the Saturday walks.
We have again supported DMBC in its Get Doncaster Walking programme with five walks in their last programme. We would like more leaders from our membership to either increase the walks we offer the programme or take the pressure off our regular leaders.
We had a very successful coach trip to Otley in June, with three walks provided. The ‘B’ walk was the most popular, but all groups returned to the town for about 4.30, time for a drink and even fish and chips.
During 2016 the committee discussed first aid issues and decided to provide a foil blanket for all regular walkers, as well as a first aid checklist. We also provided CPR training, although it clashed with England playing Iceland in a crucial World Cup game and this event was not well supported. Members have also been provided with an emergency contact card, with the hope that they will carry it with them, and that it is easily accessible, on all walks.
The Lost Ways committee has made some progress this year in identifying possible lost ways in DMBC. Members of this committee have been on a Ramblers training day on the subject and spent time at the Doncaster Archives. We recognise that identifying lost ways, using historic maps, is relatively easy, but fear that getting evidence is likely to be more difficult.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who contributes to helping the Group to function effectively. That is all walk leaders who plan, recce and then lead their walks - the walks programme is the heart of the Group. The walks programme needs organisers too, to compile the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday walks and to put them in the programme and arrange for its printing and subsequent distribution. The Group’s contributions to Get Doncaster Walking needs a liaison person. The Rights of way Committee responds to requests for diversions or modifications, to monitor the footpaths for the DMBC Rights of Way Department, and to play significant part in maintaining DMBC’s RoW. Various members contribute towards organising things like the Christmas lunches and the coach trip and the Lost Ways committee spend some of their time studying old maps in an attempt to save lost footpaths. Members who serve on the committee may not always welcome spending a Monday evening sitting and discussing Group activities, finance, problems or future plans! I thank ALL members who play a part, no matter how small, in making the Group the success that it is.
Rights of Way Committee annual report.
From Wendy Atkinson.
Since the Annual General Meeting is held in October, and reports are written in advance of that, the number of footpaths recorded as walked last year was 380, not very impressive. However by early December we had arranged a big effort from our RoW team and volunteers pressed into service, and managed to walk 100% of all walkable paths, the first time this had been achieved by us. This year path walking started later and so far we have walked just over 400 out of 590, so still some way to go, but we hope to get the whole network walked if possible. To this end we arranged a big effort last Wednesday to walk all 30 of the paths near Sykehouse, since there is no named ‘owner’.
This group began in 2011 and decided how to approach the task of improving the network in conjunction with DMBC. Basically we walk the paths, report any problems to DMBC who list them, and keep a record ourselves so that we can easily see what is not walked. We then have teams who help fix the problems found by the walkers. So far there have been more than a few comments about how well signposted our footpaths are, and what a good state they are in. We devised a Roundel to attach to work done, to help identify it to the public, so raising our profile.
We fit in with the Calendar year for reporting purposes, since this fits in with DMBC’s data. This year there was a maintenance session in January to clear a large section of the TPT, with 20 Maintenance volunteers working – all are registered with Ramblers central office for insurance purposes. There have been sessions every month, from March until October, with a wide variety of tasks being achieved. The work is highly valued by DMBC.
Thanks are given to all who walk the paths, without them the faults could not be identified as quickly and clearly; and all those who fix the problems found, turning out in all sorts of weather, from the extremely hot, when most of us would want to take things easy, to working in the rain and stiff winds.
Our good results are also due to our close working collaboration with DMBC.
Martin and I had a meeting with Julie Guest earlier this week who tells me that 70 faults have been reported, 51 of these have been sorted. The faults reported include overgrown paths that have been cut as part of the summer cut back programme, together with ploughing and cropping issues which have been resolved as the season has progressed. We still have outstanding faults from previous years’ inspections. The walking map on the DMBC’s website is now showing the correct identification of Rights of Way with their PROW ids, however we are concerned that the base map used is no longer the OS map.
A fantastic amount of work from all has improved the state of our paths, and enables anyone who chooses to go walking on our Rights of Way to have a pleasurable experience.
Also, please be aware that Ramblers Big Pathwatch is starting again November 14 – 20.
Treasurer’s annual report.
From David Horne.
The 2015 / 2016 financial year has been another good year for the group. The bank balance remains healthy, as at 30/9/16 standing at £1037.63.
The sources of income are as previous years, with the usual level of contributions from our Walks Programme advertisers. Ramblers Holidays Walking Partnership provided £280.00 for the group. The group coach trip to the Ilkley area in June was financially very successful. Income from coach fares was £500 against the coach hire charge of £295.00.
Expenditure was slightly less than the Income enabling the group to make a small profit of £110.37. £84.00 was spent on the purchase of publications to assist the Lost Ways committee. Emergency foil blankets were purchased and as it was Doncaster group’s turn to host the Area AGM this incurred some additional costs.
Finally my thanks to all committee members for all their hard work during the last financial year. I am happy to stand again as Treasurer for the next financial year.
PG questioned the difference between the Raffles income of £308.12 and the charity donations of £182. DG replied that only the proceeds of the Xmas raffles are given to the charities, the remainder goes to general funds.
DG added that there had been a request submitted to the Committee to donate funds to flood relief in the Lake District; the Committee had decided to restrict our donations to our two main charities. Did the meeting have any comments on this? Keith Staines thought we should stay with the two charities.
There has been a large bequest made to Area. Would members please submit any ideas for use of the money to a Committee member.
Election of officers:
MW asked for names standing for Chairman. There were no volunteers, DG agreed to stand again.
Elected Proposed Seconded
Chair David Gadd B Carlisle P Gravestock
DG suggested that since all officers and Committee members had agreed to stand again, that unless there were volunteers from the floor we could forgo the voting process. Agreed.
Secretary Martin Wyman
Treasurer David Horne
Rights of Way Committee Chair Wendy Atkinson
Membership Secretary Maureen Forshaw
Publicity Officer Post not filled
Social Secretary Dennis Neal
Assistant Social Secretary Hilda Levine
Walks programme co-ordinator Owen Evans
Walks programme Tuesday listings Dave Binnington
Walks programme Saturday listings Trevor Jenkins
Walks programme Wednesday evening Jim Elvidge
Walks programme distributor Peter Gravestock
Committee members Bob Carlisle
Area Council (SYNED) Marion Thompson
Auditor David Telford re-appointed
Any Other Business.
The business part of the meeting closed at 19:43 and was followed by an excellent buffet and local musicians “Two Tenors”.