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News from Stinchcombe Parish Council

Open Countryside

The Right to Roam

Rights of way and accessing land

You can access some land across England without having to use paths – this land is known as ‘open access land’ or ‘access land’.

Access land includes mountains, moors, heaths and downs that are privately owned. It also includes common land registered with the local council and some land around the England Coast Path.

Your right to access this land is called the ‘right to roam’, or ‘freedom to roam’.

What you can and cannot do

You can use access land for walking, running, watching wildlife and climbing. 

There are certain activities you cannot usually do on open access land, including:

  • horse-riding
  • cycling
  • camping
  • taking animals other than dogs on to the land
  • driving a vehicle (except mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs)
  • water sports

But you can use access land for horse-riding and cycling if: 

  • the landowner allows it
  • public bridleways or byways cross the land – horse riders and cyclists can ride along these
  • there are local traditions, or rights, of access

Dogs on open access land

You must keep your dog on a lead no more than 2 metres long on open access land:

  • between 1 March and 31 July – to protect ground-nesting birds
  • at all times around livestock

On land next to the England Coast Path you must keep your dog under close control.

There may be other local or seasonal restrictions. These do not apply to public rights of way or assistance dogs.

Excepted land

On access land some areas remain private (‘excepted land’). You do not have the right to access these areas, even if they appear on a map of open access land.

Excepted land includes:

  • houses, buildings and the land they’re on (such as courtyards)
  • land used to grow crops
  • building sites and land that’s being developed
  • parks and gardens
  • golf courses and racecourses
  • railways and tramways
  • working quarries

Use public rights of way to cross excepted land.

Find open access land

Memorial Stone

Memorial Stone

Bengad Stud

As many of you know, sadly Laura Hutchins died just before Christmas 2020 – the end of an era.

Lots of us love to walk the footpaths through the fields of Stinchcombe and for many years this included enjoying the wonderful Bengad ponies.  A stone has been placed to the right of the gateway from Lower Church Field to Upper Church Field so that we don’t forget them.

I hope it brings a smile to your face and many happy memories.

Julie Thomas

There is NO Planet B

Should Stinchcombe Parish Council declare a Climate Emergency?

A Parish Question

Our Parish Clerk recently had an email from the Carbon Neutral 2030 team at Stroud DC asking whether we’ve declared a climate emergency.  We haven’t, unlike a considerable number of town and parish councils in Stroud District. Even some very small parishes have taken this step e.g. Standish PC (population 250) way back in November 2019.

It could be seen as an empty gesture or jumping on the band wagon but has the potential to be so much more than that.  Declaring an emergency can be a catalyst for action but we need to have clear ideas on what to do.   A district council in Devon has put together a useful resources pack for town and parish councils.  What is striking is how many of the suggested actions link to things you’ve already told the parish council you’re concerned about:

Planning – objecting to proposals like that for a large development on Taits Hill Rd that would not be good for the climate or environment and supporting low carbon/Green projects

Footpaths – keeping our footpaths open and in good order to encourage walking

Highways – tackling issues like speeding, drainage, frequent burst water mains and footway/cycleway provision to our make roads safer for everyone

Stinchcombe would have plenty of support to build on its declaration and put climate action at the heart of village life.  Wotton Area Climate Action Network  is a lively, well-established group with lots of advice and events.  Transition Stroud provides a network for people and groups in Stroud District working towards a low carbon lifestyle.

So what do you think as residents? 

Please use the comments facility below to let the Parish Council know or contact the clerk.

Kath Hudson

PCC Candidates

Road Safety – views from PCC Candidates

If you’ve not already voted postally, you may want to read this before you vote for our next Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC). 

Current PCC – Martin Surl

Retired police officer and consultant Martin Surl (Independent) has been Gloucestershire’s PCC since the role was created in 2012 and is standing again.  Road safety has been one of his priority areas under the Safe & Social Roads initiative .  During his time in office,  Martin has allocated 1% of the total policing budget to the  Commissioner’s Fund  which supports local projects in this and other priority areas.  He instigated the recent Office of the Police & Crime Commissioner (OPCC) Safe and Social Roads survey for parish and town councils.  The Speed Watch Team completed it back in January.   We thought the questions showed good insight into the current problems, especially the lack of partnership working.

A Roadside Meeting

Community Speed Watch member Don Cribb persuaded another candidate to attend a roadside meeting in Stinchcombe.  Full marks to Chris Nelson (Conservative) for sparing the time to speak to us.  We told him about Stinchcombe’s experiences trying to get something done about speeding over the last couple of decades.  Trying to back out of a drive onto busy Taits Hill Road was a bit of an eyeopener for him!

Chris, an army veteran and former Parish Council Chair, outlines his ideas in the short video Empowering Communities .  They are based on a much great role for parish councils in:

  • recruiting an additional 150 special constables to work in their own communities;
  • deploying modern speed monitoring technologies such as AutoSpeedWatch (supported by more police staff and shared funding where appropriate); and
  • making greater use of Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert Schemes

If elected, he would want to meet groups of Parish Council representatives as soon as possible to get things moving. 

Other PCC Candidates

In the interests of balance, I emailed the comments and questions we discussed with Chris Nelson to the other candidates:

  • Martin Surl (Independent)
  • Adrian Stratton (Independent)
  • Chris Coleman (Liberal Democrats)
  • Simon O’Rourke (Labour)

At the time of writing only Adrian Stratton has replied.  He served 30 years with Gloucestershire Constabulary and you can read more about him here .  Adrian told me that speeding and road safety is ‘amongst the top topics of concern’ in the many emails he receives.  If elected, he would review the data from the OPCC survey to ‘better understand the problems and concerns’ and ‘hopefully offer ideas and long-term solutions’.  Adrian believes ‘the sight of the Police lights on the Traffic Officer’s car pulling over a motorist was one of the biggest deterrents you could have’ and wants to bring staffing of this role back to former levels.  He suggests that ‘the whole issue clearly needs to be re-vamped and made workable for all parties’ and would want to sit down with people like me to resolve the issues sooner rather than later.

Please vote thoughtfully

Putting together this article has helped me decide who to vote for as the next PCC.  I hope a few others will find it helpful too.


Woodland Walk Clean-up

A big thank you to all who participated in the Annual Litter Pick. If you missed the opportunity or simply wish to do some more, we shall be cleaning up one of the woodland areas beyond the Village Hall, * next Sunday 18th April, at the slightly earlier time of 10am, meeting up at the Village Hall.

The woodland in question had trunk protection placed around the saplings when planted. This has become an unsightly nuisance that needs removing as it is in some cases damaging the trees. We need a couple of agile, dextrous people who can get access to the trunks to remove the plastic and pile it where it can be accessed from proper paths. We also need people to bag up these piles – The springy plastic can be brittle and sharp – sharp enough to go through bin bags if not careful and there is a lot of plastic! We will then need to take the bags to the woodland gate.

Please respect social distancing when you arrive, once in the woodland things should be easier. Please bring your own gloves and wear shoes with good ankle support (the ground involved is very uneven).

Any questions , please ask.

  • (if one were to be in the carpark at the village hall looking West the, woods beyond the ‘playing fields’ are the ones I’m on about. Behind the hedge between the two FP stiles (and two badger sets).)

Annual Litter Pick

2021 Annual Litter Pick

Spring has sprung, everything’s starting to look a lot greener and there’s hope of better times ahead – and it’s also time to start spring cleaning! Fortunately, Highways have recently done a good job of tidying up Taits Hill, but the rest of the hedges and verges in the village are in need of a bit of TLC – not least as we weren’t able to hold a litter pick last year.

This year’s litter pick will be on Sunday 11th April, starting at the Village Hall at 10.30am and all are welcome to come and join in. The more the merrier! 

Obviously, there will need to be some Covid precautions in place, so please be prepared to stand away from others when you arrive and while waiting to sort out areas. Pickers and high-vis jackets will be provided – all suitably and thoroughly sanitised of course – but please bring your own gloves.

See you on 11th!


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