Like the countryside? Access Forum seeks local volunteers

Tyne & Wear residents are encouraged to play a part in steering how our countryside is looked after by joining the region’s Joint Local Access Forum.

The North East’s rich country and coastal landscapes are a managed landscape enjoyed by many. The region has hundreds of public access paths for walkers, horse riders, cyclists of all abilities, mobility, and lawful motor vehicle access, and it all needs careful planning.

The forum is an independent, statutory body that provides advice to local councils and other organisations on how to make our countryside more accessible and enjoyable.

Its members are volunteers with a wide range of interests and backgrounds.  Together, they work to protect, improve and help shape the future of footpaths, bridleways, byways, open access land and other green spaces across the region.

Recently, the forum has been consulted on non-motorised access for new A19 development around the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) that is being planned by Sunderland and South Tyneside councils.

Forum chair Victor Cadaxa (foreground) at Herrington Country Park with fellow Nordic Walkers

It has also given advice to Newcastle City Council on its Development Allocation Plan and to Natural England on access for disabled users to the Coastal Path in North and South Tyneside.

The forum is now looking for new members from all backgrounds, aged 18 or over, with an interest in countryside or rural access issues. Although applications from anyone in the Tyne and Wear area are welcomed, the forum would particularly welcome applicants in the following categories:

  • Residents of South Tyneside and North Tyneside;
  • Owners, occupiers and managers of land especially with Public Rights of Way or statutory open access land.

The forum, which has 12 members, meets three to four times per year at Gateshead Civic Centre, with additional training and working groups as required, plus occasional site visits. Travelling expenses and childcare costs can be claimed.

Its Chairman, Victor Cadaxa said:

“I hope Tyne & Wear residents will feel encouraged to become Local Access Forum members. We rely on our members’ local knowledge and expertise to be an effective voice for users of non-motorised routes and open spaces.

Forum members actively keep an eye on issues affecting access and routes, and equally for any chances to improve or upgrade existing routes, and to seek new access and routes where possible. We welcome new active members with open arms.”

The next meeting of the forum is being held in Gateshead Civic Centre on Tuesday 17 July. The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 4.30pm, with refreshments available from 4pm.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please visit the website at to download an application form, or email