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 October 2019)

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.

David Barker MBE (Vice Chair)

With his wide experience within the NFU, CLA and as a former Countryside Agency Commissioner, David seeks to work to balance all interests in countryside access. David was also Chair of Creating the Greenest County. 

David has been a member of SLAF since July 2003 and Vice Chair since April 2010.

Suzanne Bartlett

Having been brought up on a farm near Framlingham, Suzanne has spent most of her life living and working in Suffolk. Since retiring from her profession 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 and mental well-being. 

Suzanne has been a member of SLAF since October 2018.

Derek Blake MBE

Chair of Clare Walkers and the Activity Planning Trustee at Clare Castle Country Park, Derek has a keen interest in all aspects of leisure walking, as well as issues related to access, health and well-being, and tourism. 

Derek has been a member of SLAF since October 2018.

Margaret Hancock

Margaret is a Blue Badge Tourist Guide particularly interested 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. She also 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.

Jane Hatton

Jane was born and has always lived in Suffolk, enjoying the countryside as both a horse rider and dog walker. Jane has a background in sales and marketing and has previously been the Sudbury Town Centre Manager. She continues to work to improve access for the community into the countryside, with an interest in promoting the benefits to health and tourism. She has also introduced new walks for both the Suffolk Walking Festival and Walking for Health. 

Jane has been a member of SLAF since October 2013.

Councillor James Mallinder

James is an active parish councillor in Hollesley, volunteer for 'Meet up Mondays', and treasurer of a local Good Neighbour scheme. In 2019 he entered East Suffolk Council as ward member for Deben and with an enthusiasm for the environment, holds the Environment Portfolio. 

James has been a member of SLAF since October 2019.

Gordon Merfield

With a background in agriculture, since the 1980s Gordon has participated in and coached 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

Sue is a walker and cyclist, mainly because of the opportunities they give for exploring landscape, history and nature at close hand. She is a volunteer with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, doing practical work on local reserves. She is a member of the Long Distance Walkers Association. Sue's 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. 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 Fynn Valley Walk. 

Monica has been a member of SLAF since July 2003.

Councillor Jane Storey

County Councillor for Thedwastre North, Jane's interests include dog walking, off-road driving and (being a farmer's daughter) a strong view that along with rights come responsibilities. Jane believes we should preserve our rights of way, including bridleways and byways, but not at the expense of common sense. These are an important part of presenting Suffolk as the Greenest County, useful for getting from A to B, and also good for getting people who do not normally exercise out and about at little or no expense. Jane has been a member of SLAF since October 2009.

John Wayman

A former district council member farming in the Stour Valley, John now contributes to the wider rural picture. 

John has been a member of SLAF since July 2003.

Roley Wilson

Roley is actively involved in the promotion of the health benefits of walking for all. He has a life-long interest in nature and outdoor pursuits. During a 33-year police career, 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 walking and cycling guides. For 15 years before retiring, Anthony worked part time for the national sustainable transport charity Sustrans as its Area Manger 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 and Suffolk Highways of their responsibilities for non-motorised users' safety on the highway. 

Anthony has been a member of SLAF since July 2003.

Contact us

If you have any queries, please contact the Suffolk Local Access Forum at slaf@suffolk.gov.uk 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