AAP in England

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Specific information on AAP within Scotland can be found within the case studies section.

Desk-based research was carried out on several UK examples of AAP type projects including the well known Three Ps (Parish Paths Partnership) from Essex. Most of the issues raised in rest of UK are covered using Scottish examples in the case studies section. However, there are some useful UK examples that can contribute some innovative AAP management approach or have a really outstanding way of tackling a practical issue.

The Parish Paths Partnership (P3) was one way of involving local communities or groups in the management of their local path network. The Countryside Commission for England and Wales (CCEW) launched the scheme as a pilot project in 1992. Initially it was a demonstration project that was grant-aided by the Commission. Parish Councils and other local groups were encouraged to agree with the highway authority a programme of works on the path network to improve the paths and encourage their use. The Commission funded the highway authority to recruit a liaison officer to support the various groups involved in the scheme and also funded the cost of the works carried out.

 Unfortunately, funding  for P3 is no longer available but many authorities in England continue to run the scheme as they recognise it as a successful method of engaging local communities improving and maintaining their public Rights of Way.

Essex County Council - Parish Paths Partnership (P3) Scheme

Essex has a very comprehensive P3 scheme which has been in place since 1990. Volunteer’s are usually parish based but some are part of organised groups e.g. Trail Rider’s Fellowship, Ramblers etc. Essex operates with a single ‘P3 Rep’ for each group, this is not necessarily someone from a parish council but anyone with the interest and time to carry out the required work.

There are three key features to the P3 scheme as follows:

Firstly, a partnership agreement. This is a signed agreement between the P3 group, usually the Parish Council or the Group Chair and the Community Action Team (within Essex County Council). The agreement specifies how the groups will work together, when advice should be sought and what commitment is expected in return. Every group representative is inducted into the scheme and given a manual which includes a generic risk assessment pack. It is the responsibility of the P3 rep to perform the risk assessments for every volunteer activity although officers will assist if required.

Secondly, provision of up to 100% grant (however, this may be reduced in future years as part of the Council’s budget cuts)

Thirdly, an advisory service. Within the Community Action Team are the Council’s Rights of Way Officers (also referred to as P3 Officers) who provide advice, training, support and guidance. The scheme is administered from the Council’s headquarters and the P3 Officers are the first point of contact if there are any problems.

The P3 manual has recently (June 2011) been revised to bring it up to date as the scheme has evolved. The same goes for the risk assessments, considering a format where a risk assessment will be job specific and have a box for every volunteer present to sign (and acknowledge) the risks.

The P3 manual is available on the Essex County Council website:

http://www.essex.gov.uk/Travel-Highways/Public-Rights-Way/Using-Public-Rights-Way/Documents/Parish_Paths_Partnership_Manual_Jan08.pdf

The Volunteer Handbook is also available from the Essex website at:

http://www.essex.gov.uk/Travel-Highways/Public-Rights-Way/Using-Public-Rights-Way/Documents/Volunteers_handbook.pdf

Devon County Council – AAP Scheme

The AAP scheme is promoted by Devon Country Council. It aims to increase the public’s knowledge, use and enjoyment of the path network throughout the county.

The scheme encourages volunteers to inspect the paths in their local area and to assist with their upkeep to ensure that they are in a satisfactory condition for the whole community. The level of help can vary and could include the following:

  • Walk or ride the paths on a regular basis, e.g. three or more times a year;
  • Report any problems or obstructions;
  • Undertake minor maintenance such as ‘knocking back any intruding growth and
  • Help with Parish Paths Partnership annual surveys.

Volunteers are not required to negotiate with landowners as this is carried out by officers of Devon County Council.

Similar schemes with similar aims have been established by many other English local authorities including Sheffield City Council and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council and Dorset County Council.

      
 However, Dorset County Council replaced their AAP scheme with a new Volunteer Scheme in September 2011. The main reason for this change was to give a more structured and ‘professional’ approach to access volunteering in Dorset.

The key change in the new approach was the creation of a Volunteer Ranger – Group Leader post with the role of leading a local volunteer group and act as the main contact between the group and the Rights of Way Officer and/or Parish Council. The Group Leader is also expected to liaise with landowners for any planned work and to run an induction programme for local Countryside Access Volunteers and ensuring group members safety on site. In return for running the local volunteer group the Council provides first aid, site, tool and safety training, hand tools and protective clothing, materials and training for a variety of practical paths work.

     

This post takes a lot of the day-to-day management of volunteers away from busy Rights of Way Officers. Such an approach could also be useful for Scotland but would depend on finding Volunteer Group Leaders of sufficient calibre and in sufficient numbers to make a difference. A part-time paid post may work better or a percentage of development costs go towards payment?

The Council also advertise for Local Countryside Access Volunteers who form the bulk of the paths workforce

The Council-wide scheme is co-ordinated by a Volunteer Ranger Co-ordinator

Durham County Council

Along with the Essex scheme, Durham County Council has been particularly successful in establishing and building a strong P3 type project.

 The Council secured additional funding to expand its P3 scheme through the Local Transport Programme (LTP) and is helping communities carry out a wide range of AAP type projects.

Durham is recognised as being very committed to path projects of all sorts and back this up with good staff and financial resources. The Council has an eight person team made up of a Section Manager, P3 Co-ordinator and six Area Officers. They produce a lively and helpful newsletter which is a key part of their confidence and capacity building programme. The newsletter highlights any topical issues and where to get advice and training support.

See http://www.durham.gov.uk/prow/P3 for details.

 

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