Natural England, with support from our 8 funded Regional Coordinators, again organised a national LAF conference for 2014 but this time in order to keep travel costs to a minimum, 2 conferences were arranged in Bristol and Durham. The Bristol ‘South’ conference was held on 4th February 2014 and the Durham ‘North’ conference was held on 7th March 2014.
All LAFs were asked to nominate a representative to attend a conference (in addition to members running workshops) and whilst we didn’t get 100% attendance, three quarters of LAFs were represented with 111 delegates in total attending both conferences. We were also fortunate to find suitable free venues: Natural England’s office in Bristol and Durham County Council generously offered the use of their Council Chambers.
We invited LAF members to suggest the topics of most interest to them and this led to a programme with a range of speakers and workshop facilitators from the LAFs, Defra, Natural England and from other organisations with an interest in public access. The presentations included an update from Defra on the Deregulation Bill and how this is likely to impact on the recording of Public Rights of Way. There were briefings from two of the main lottery funding bodies, providing information on how LAFs can access lottery grants. Presentations by National Rail on rail crossings, the Ramblers, the CLA and the NFU. Workshops were held on Local Enterprise Partnerships, dogs in the countryside, access for all and LAF effectiveness. The lively discussions within workshops and informally in the margins of the conferences, along with positive feedback from delegates, clearly demonstrated that the events were worthwhile and appreciated.
For more details about the conferences, please click the links below: