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Suffolk Local Access Forum (SLAF)

Learn about the Suffolk Local Access Forum, what they do, who they are and how to contact them.

About the Suffolk Local Access Forum

Under section 94 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Suffolk County Council as the Highways Authority has established a Local Access Forum.

Members of the forum are independent and represent those involved with access to the countryside, including landowners, users and those with conservation interests.

The role of the Suffolk Local Access Forum is to provide strategic advice "on the improvement of public access to land in their area for the purposes of open-air recreation and the enjoyment of the area, and to such other matters as may be prescribed" (s94(4) Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000).

The forum meets at least four times a year at different venues across Suffolk. Find the Suffolk Local Access Forum meeting agendas and minutes.

It is a requirement of the Local Access Forum (England) Regulations 2002 to submit an Annual Report of the Suffolk Local Access Forum to the Highway Authority (Suffolk County Council). Find the Suffolk Local Access Forum annual reports going back to 2003.

Terms of Reference (agreed 7 July 2003)

  1. The Suffolk Local Access Forum will have a wide role in advising upon strategic access and recreation issues in Suffolk and act as a statutory advisor to the County Council as local highway authority. This will involve:

  2. Being consulted on:
    1. the draft maps of open countryside and registered common land for Suffolk
    2. any bylaws to be made by the access authority affecting access land
    3. the appointment of access wardens on land where the new right of access applies
    4. directions proposed by "relevant authorities" which would restrict or exclude long-term access from access land
    5. the preparation of rights of way improvement plans by the County Council, including any opportunities for access to open countryside especially where new linear routes may be desirable and assisting in setting priorities for implementation

  3. Providing advice on for example:
    1. strategies or plans incorporating recreation and access which set rights of way and open access in a broad context
    2. the extent to which fair provision is made for all current and potential users and reflects the needs of local people and businesses
    3. the co-ordinated use of resources to provide and manage integrated recreation and access
    4. the dissemination of information to interested groups and the wider public

  4. In providing advice the Local Access Forum should have regard to:
    1. the needs of land management
    2. the desirability of conserving the natural beauty of the area
    3. the management and maintenance of access whilst balancing this against the needs of biodiversity, wildlife management, the interests of land owners and managers, and countryside management projects in Suffolk.

Members of the Suffolk Local Access Forum (as at January 2024)

Barry Hall (Chair)

Barry is a retired local government officer with experience of working on countryside and rights of way projects. Barry retains an interest in countryside access as a member of the RSPB, Suffolk Wildlife Trust and National Trust. Barry has been a member of SLAF since October 2007 and Chair since January 2016.

Suzanne Bartlett

Having been brought up on a farm near Framlingham, Suzanne spent most of her life living and working in Suffolk. Since retiring as a librarian, she has dedicated more time to walking and cycling in the countryside, whilst continuing as a self-employed writer and researcher. She is particularly concerned with promoting the benefits of outdoor activities for both physical health and mental well-being. Suzanne has been a member of SLAF since October 2018.

Christopher Bower

Chris is a keen cyclist who enjoys off-road hiking, biking, and running, exploring the natural environment, and participating in ultradistance cycling events. As a Cycling UK advocate, he has created a long-distance multi-terrain cycling route around Suffolk to encourage responsible green access and improve physical, mental, and environmental health. Chris became a member of SLAF in April 2023.

Margaret Hancock

Margaret is a Blue Badge Tourist Guide with a particular interest in promoting sustainable tourism. She is keen to encourage visitors to explore Suffolk by public transport, walking and cycling to benefit the local economy and preserve the peace and tranquillity of the county. Margaret has experience of supporting children and young people with disabilities, enabling them to access leisure facilities. Margaret has been a member of SLAF since April 2010.

Gordon Merfield

With a background in agriculture, since the 1980's Gordon has been active in participating and coaching field sports events as well as being interested in the wider countryside and walking in foreign countries. Gordon has been a member of SLAF since September 2004.

Susan Mobbs

Susan is a walker and a cyclist mainly because of the opportunities they give her for exploring landscape, history, and nature at close hand. She is a volunteer with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, doing practical work on local reserves, and a member of the Long-Distance Walkers Association. Her professional background is in social care and social and community development, and she is keen to see improved access to the countryside and outdoor activities for people of all ages and abilities. Susan has been a member of SLAF since October 2018.

Clare Phillips

With a background in journalism, Clare has worked on the BBC's 'Farming Today' programme and presented countryside documentaries for BBC Radio Suffolk. Clare enjoys off-road running and walking in the Suffolk countryside, organises several Trail Races, and runs each year for her running club. She is a horse-rider and a Trustee of Ipswich Riding for the Disabled Group with experience of working with a wide range of riders with disabilities. Clare also chairs the footpaths sub-committee of Brantham Parish Council. Clare has been a member of SLAF since October 2018.

Monica Pipe

Monica farms just north of Ipswich and has many well-used footpaths on her land including the promoted long-distance trail, the Fynn Valley Walk. Monica has been a member of SLAF since its inception in July 2003.

Adrian Shepherd

Adrian is General Manager of National Trust Ickworth Estate. The Trust was founded on the principle of maintaining spaces for people to enjoy and benefit from, and this is what motivates Adrian in his work. In his professional capacity he is committed to making the estate more accessible to cyclists, walkers, and horse riders, and developing sustainable travel options to National Trust properties. Away from work, Adrian is a walking enthusiast. Adrian has been a member of SLAF since April 2023.

Councillor Joanna Spicer

Joanna has lived in Suffolk for over 50 years having come to live here in 1972 to work for the newly formed East Anglia Tourist Board as the Information Officer. She was first elected to Suffolk County Council in 1989 and represents the 16 rural villages of the Blackbourn Division, north-east of Bury St Edmunds. Joanna is not only a keen walker, but also works with parish councils and landowners to press for additional rights of way and green space to be a larger part of new developments. Joanna has been a member of SLAF since June 2022 representing Suffolk County Council.

Jim Wayman

Jim works for a company representing east Suffolk potato farmers. He has an interest in balancing the needs of landowners and farmers with maintaining the natural beauty of Suffolk’s landscapes and ensuring there is access for all to enjoy the countryside for recreation. Jim has been a member of SLAF since April 2023.

Councillor Sarah Whitelock

Sarah is a Green Party District Councillor for Aldeburgh and Leiston and Cabinet Member for Communities, Leisure and Tourism. She is a keen walker, cyclist and swimmer who became interested in the role of the District Council while researching the impact of Sizewell C and other NSIPs (Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects) on her ward and East Suffolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Sarah has been a member of SLAF since October 2023 representing District and Borough Councils.

Roley Wilson

Roley is actively involved in the promotion of the health benefits of walking for all. He has a lifelong interest in nature and open-air pursuits. During a 33-year career in the police one of his many postings involved being the Wildlife Liaison Officer for Suffolk. He is a member of the Ramblers and since retirement has spent an increasing amount of time in volunteer activities for that organisation. A keen bird watcher and member of the RSPB and Suffolk Wildlife Trust he has a passion for ensuring that everyone has free and responsible access to the countryside. Roley has been a member of SLAF since October 2013.

Anthony Wright

A long-term cyclist and walker, Anthony has worked with several local authorities and publishers on the production of cycling and walking guides. For 15 years before retiring Anthony worked part-time for the national sustainable transport charity Sustrans as its Area Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk, while also working part-time as a Suffolk County Council Cycling Officer. He maintains an active interest in developing cycle routes and advises the Highways Agency and Norfolk & Suffolk Highways of their responsibilities for non-motorist users’ safety on the highway. Anthony has been a member of SLAF since its inception in July 2003.

Contact us

If you have any queries, please contact the Suffolk Local Access Forum at or by post at:

SLAF Secretariat c/o Green Access Team, Public Rights of Way and Access, Suffolk County Council, Phoenix House, 3 Goddard Road, Ipswich, IP1 5NP