The Open Spaces Society (formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society) was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. A charity and a pressure group, we campaign for new, tougher laws to protect common land, town and village greens, urban and rural open spaces and public rights of way in town and country, throughout England and Wales. We give technical and practical advice on their law, protection, management and administration.
The society has some 2000 members, consisting of local authorities at all levels, amenity and other organisations and individuals, who look to it for help and guidance. We rely for our income on membership subscriptions, donations, legacies and grants.
The society’s office is in Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and presently has seven members of staff and around 40 home-based local correspondents who represent the society in their local authority area. The society is governed by the trustees who are elected by the annual general meeting of the society’s members.
Although we are a small charity, we are extremely energetic, operating at national and local levels. We have a lively social media following, are often in the newspapers and on the radio, and we are involved in parliamentary work and legal action.
We are presently looking to recruit for the following roles:
Case Officer – Rights of Way
The society is looking to recruit a Case Officer to provide technical support on rights-of-way matters to staff and volunteers. Main responsibilities include:
- acting as one of the society’s case-workers by dealing with requests for advice and answering queries from members of the society on rights of way in England and Wales, by correspondence, telephone and occasional site visits.
- working with and oversee the local correspondents’ work on rights of way, keeping the guidelines up to date, liaising with them over path issues, encouraging them to take appropriate action to resolve cases and assisting with recruitment.
- acting as a co-ordinator between rights-of-way user groups to facilitate meetings and discussions on issues of common interest, including by preparing and presenting papers.
- assisting in the review and development of the society’s policy on rights of way (for example, in relation to the standards expected of diversion orders), and to codify such policy in appropriate guidance.
- writing material for the society’s magazine Open Space, published three times a year, write press releases and pages for the website, prepare fact sheets and leaflets, respond to consultation papers from government departments and agencies, local authorities and others, assist in the preparation of other society literature including the fifth edition of Rights of Way: a guide to law and practice and prepare papers for the trustees, subcommittees and other society meetings.
- assisting with internal and external training on public paths and to attend and address conferences and workshops.
- serving on external committees and represent the society at external meetings.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for a full job description, person specification and application form.
Applications are open until Tuesday 23 April with interviews to be held at our Henley office on Tuesday 7 or Thursday 9 May.
Job title: Trustee/s (co-opted) in England & Wales
Role: to be part of the governing body of the Open Spaces Society and help it fulfil its role of protecting open spaces and public paths for the use of the public and, in particular, to help it become more financially self-sufficient and thus ensure it continues to help future generations. We have an excellent committee but, like many small charities, are in need of more help in certain areas. We would be pleased to co-opt people with the expertise and background below, but they need to join the society before they are eligible to serve as a trustee.
Term: at least one year – preferably two to three.
• a genuine interest in the objects of the society; and
• resident in Wales with a knowledge of and interest in our work there (we would like at least one trustee to be a Welsh resident to help make our work more relevant to Wales); and/or
• background in publicity/marketing/social media/fund-raising especially in the charity sector; and/or
• legal expertise.
Hours: Not onerous. There are four trustees’ meetings a year plus the AGM—currently all in London, lasting three to four hours on a weekday. There is an option of serving on subcommittees or working parties (eg finance, membership) according to skills and interests.
Apart from meetings, most work can be done online and from home. There are occasional exceptions.
Remuneration: None—expenses are paid. We hope the work is the reward!
Local correspondents in England and Wales
The work of the Open Spaces Society depends heavily on its volunteers. In particular our team of Local Correspondents is the backbone of our efforts to preserve public paths, common land and greens. For this post it is essential that the person has the ability to understand and scrutinise path change consultations and orders and planning applications and to make appropriate recommendations.
Local correspondents in urban areas
In urban areas the work of local correspondents is likely to be more concerned with parks and other open spaces, defending them against undesirable development and enclosure, often by the local authority owners. The society is directly consulted on commons and rights-of-way matters, but other threats can only be discovered by looking for planning applications and articles in local papers. Also some of our urban authorities still have no definitive maps of public paths which makes the job more difficult.
For this post it is essential that the person has the willingness and ability to study planning proposals as they relate to commons, greens, open spaces and paths and to make appropriate recommendations. Although a background in land law would be extremely useful, this is not essential as the society will provide guidance.