A meeting of the Footpaths Committee of Eccleshall Parish Council was held on Wednesday September 4th, 2019 at Eccleshall Community Centre at 7.00pm.

1). Present were:- Councillor C. Marshall (Chair); Councillor J. Leather
Councillor R. Taylor; Councillor S. Mifflin

Mrs. S. J. Worden (Clerk)
Mr. N. Davenport; Mr. D. Smith
Councillor E. Amos (observing)
Two members of the Public

Apologies:- Apologies were recorded from Councillors P. Jones.

2). Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairman:- Councillor Marshall was duly elected as Chair of the Committee.
No councillors stood for the position of Vice-Chair, but Cllr. Leather advised if he was available, he would stand in as Chair.

3). Minutes of the meeting held on May 1st, 2019 and matters arising:- The minutes, which had previously been circulated and accepted by the Council, were agreed and signed. It was noted that item 7, checking of issues with walking route around Slindon, would be addressed by Mr. Davenport and if any further information was required, to contact the Clerk.

4). Approval of revised Walks Leaflets:- Walks 8 and 12 are outstanding and Mr. Davenport will review them. Walk 11 had been updated and circulated ahead of the meeting for review. The committee resolved to accept the revised leaflet and request the Council to approve printing costs, which the Clerk will obtain.

5). Footpath Marshall Reports:-
• A report was received concerning the ongoing issues with footpaths 115 and 117. It was noted that 117 was a bridleway, and part of it ran into another Parish Council. When last checked, the part within Eccleshall Parish was accessible. With regards to footpath 115, the issue is related to overgrowth and the lack of access due to crop planting near the edge. It is unclear who owns this field, but the Clerk will chase the issue with the Rights of Way team.

The Clerk advised that 3 sets of residents have been in touch to express an interest in monitoring footpaths and providing the Parish Council with information about issues. It was noted that the Marshalls list needs updating and possibly needs to be reviewed as part of a new project, but in the interim the interested residents have been allocated routes for reporting.

6). Review of current maintenance schedule and new works for consideration:
The committee and Mr. D. Smith were provided with an updated maintenance schedule noting the work completed to date. The Clerk added the replacement of a fingerpost on footpath 91 and will order a new post from the Rights of Way team for Mr. Smith to install. It was noted that due to personal reasons, Mr. Smith will not be able to do much work on the footpaths over the next few months. The committee agreed that it needed to consider additional support for footpaths maintenance and to consider how the parish contributes to footpaths maintenance going forwards.

7). Update on reported footpath issues: The Clerk circulated an updated issues log, which records all the issues that have been reported to the Rights of Way, and includes any actions taken or resolutions.

8). Footpath 15 maintenance past the Eyeswells (Usulwall to Vicarage). Cllr. P. Jones has received complaints from residents about the condition of footpath 15 from Usulwall Close to the Vicarage, which is the part that is not owned and maintained by the Parish Council. The paved footpath is being encroached by vegetation and requires siding out. It was also noted that there was an ongoing issue with localised flooding behind the vicarage, due a blocked drain. Any overgrown trees will be the responsibility of residents where the properties back onto the footpath. The Clerk will report the blocked drain and encroaching vegetation to the Rights of Way team for action. This will be reviewed at the next meeting if action has not been taken.

8). Correspondence:-
• Japanese Knotweed on Footpath 13 near Taylor Wimpey:- The Clerk summarised the trail of correspondence between a resident, Taylor Wimpey and the Rights of Way team concerning the identification and actions to be taken to eradicate Japanese knotweed from footpath 13, near to Shaw’s Lane end. Both Taylor Wimpey and ROW have visited the site to identify the plant. ROW have advised that as the knotweed is not having any impact on people using the footpath, they will have no further involvement in this issue. The resident is awaiting a response from Taylor Wimpey, as landowners of that stretch of path, regarding any action to be taken. The Clerk noted that the footpath is due a tidy by TGM, but they have been advised about the presence and location of the knotweed and will avoid the area. Knotweed was also spotted on a nearby verge adjacent to the allotments and the area has since been treated. It has not been established who has treated the area, as neither the Parish Council, allotments or the Rights of Way team are aware of any treatment works.
• County Council decision to approve addition of footpath route from A5013 nr. Walton Grove to B5405. The decision was noted by the committee.
• Footpath 17- overgrowth issues. Footpath 17 has a number of issues – the area near to the Stone Road to the rear of the Bovis estate has always been muddy and there are concerns about whether this is getting worse. In addition, the area where the footpath crosses the field at the other end of the path is significantly overgrown with nettles and is forcing walkers to walk further in the field. A resident noted that the ditch could do with being re-dug and the nettles uprooted. The resident also noted that the stile at the end of the path is overgrown and needs clearing. The committee resolved for the Clerk to see if contact details were available for the farmer and request clearance of that area.
• Gaol Butts/Crescent footpath – hedge overgrowth from resident properties. A resident reported that the path has become overgrown. The footpath surface is the responsibility of Stafford and Rural Homes, however the overgrowth is from hedges belonging to residents adjacent to the footpath. The committee resolved to write to the residents to request cutting back of the hedges. Cllr. Marshall will advise address details to the Clerk.

9). Any Other Business:-

• Missing fingerpost at the walkway between Hartlands Road and Badgers Croft – It was noted that there has been no action to replace the fingerpost to date following the report to ROW. Councillors noted that although the base of the post was surrounded by tarmac, it should still be possible to remove the stump and replace with a new post. Residents do not want a waymark disc on a fence, and Cllr. Taylor advised that the residents of the property where the previous fingerpost was located are in favour of a replacement post. It was resolved for the Clerk to obtain a quotation for installation of the fingerpost, if the post were supplied by the Rights of Way team.

10). Date of next meeting: – The next meeting was arranged for January 8th, 2019 at 7.00pm, preceding the Planning Committee Meeting.

There being no further business the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 7.45pm.