Monday, 27 August 2012

Rambler gets pleasure from rambling but does he pay?

Looking after stiles is the landowners responsibility. That is when they're not fretting about the ramblers dogs worrying the sheep or the fallen stone wall (where some walkers have decided it's a short cut) that means he can't graze cows in that field. Or filling in interminable forms rained down upon him from assorted parts of national and local government. Nope, the priority is to fix a stile so Mick Melvin doesn't rip his anorak:

The president of a Bradford rambling group has called for action on “dangerous” stiles on walking routes in the district.

Mick Melvin, of the Bradford CHA Rambling and Social Club, said on an average day walkers would have a problem with up to five per cent of the stiles they came across.

He said many stiles in the district presented a danger to walkers, young or old. He said he wanted to see landowners take responsibility for problem stiles on their land, and for the Council to take action if that did not happen. 

What Mick means, of course, is that those landowners should pay - in time and money - to ensure he can have his walking pleasure. A walking pleasure for which Mick doesn't pay and has no intention of paying. Despite this Mick and his walking buddies are prepared to pay £200 for a waterproof jacket, £150 for a pair of boots, £30 or so for those funny ski pole things and so on through rucksacks, nice warm hats and a host of other items.

What Mick isn't prepared to pay towards is keeping the place he walks spic and span, fixing those stiles, mending walls, cutting back weeds and shoring up paths worn out by the passing tramp of boots. Perhaps he should consider that as an option? Somehow I fear Mick and his mates will still turn first to the Council and then moan to the local paper. Sad really.



dc96 said...

Many councils assist landowners on popular routes so as long as Mick is a council tax payer then he is contributing. Some landowners deliberately avoid their legal responsibilities to keep public rights of way open to discourage people for using them. That doesn't excuse inconsiderate walkers who cause damage to property.

gasfires said...

Simon Cooke Councillor for Bingley believes that Ramblers in the Bradford district should be made to pay for the upkeep of stiles and footpaths.
Recently the Bradford Telegraph and Argus contacted me in my capacity as the President of the largest rambling club in the Bradford district, and invited me to pass an opinion on the state of footpaths and access stiles in the Bradford area.
In the article which was subsequently published in the T&A, I spoke about the 5% of stiles in the area that had not been maintained, which at the very least prevented the elderly and infirm from completing a walk, and at worst presented a serious danger to anyone attempting to pass through.
Simon Cooke, who is a conservative Councillor for Bingley, an area which contributes more members to Bradford CHA Rambling & Social Club than any other in the district, declares in his daily blog that I and all the members of the Rambling community do not contribute anything to the upkeep of stiles and footpaths.
He has quite obviously assumed that the walking community do not pay council tax. Neither has he made any effort to find out that many of us are members of local footpath groups, who do indeed spend many hours of our own time and money in erecting and maintaining stiles and footpaths.
I would like to mention one group of walkers in the Wharfedale area as an example. The Lower Wharfedale Working Group of The Ramblers, which was formed in 1994, was recognised in 2009 by an award from Ilkley Civic society for the work which they had voluntarily carried out on footpaths, stiles and bridges. Indeed, since the working group was formed, they have built or repaired more than 260 stiles, 43 bridges, 75 paths and 60 gates. Their work benefits everyone who loves walking in our area!

In his blog Councillor Simon Cooke refers to the 115,000 members of The Ramblers as my “walking buddies” and states that I and my “walking buddies” do not pay and have no intention of paying any contribution towards our walking pleasure. I have no idea where Councillor Cooke has acquired his facts about me and my “walking buddies” but I am afraid that his information is sadly wide of the mark.
I personally have been a registered volunteer leader of the “walking for health” initiative for a number of years, and in the past have led many walks for the elderly and disabled people in the district. Many of my “walking buddies” are also involved in the same initiative, several of them lead weekly rambles open to all-comers and a lot of local people have benefited both in mind and body through taking part in these walks. Has Councillor Cooke taken into account the money saved by the NHS due to the health benefits conferred on the elderly and infirm by ramblers freely giving of their time? Some people may consider such work for the community as a small measure of pay-back.
In the weeks between the two Olympic Games and the success achieved by our British athletes, with all of us enthused to take more exercise, I find it barely credible that Councillor Cooke should be so negative about an activity that is available to all, and delivers so many benefits for so little effort. Councillor Cooke makes a joke about “those funny ski pole things” when referring to the aids used by elderly and infirm walkers, which actually prolong their walking life and assist them to ramble in safety. Don’t the disabled also need to cross stiles?

What hope is there of getting any improvement when a prominent councillor sends a message like this out? We do not want to build Jerusalem, only eager to walk in England’s green and pleasant land!
Mick Melvin
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Anonymous said...

What Councillor Cooke does not seem to realise is the economic vlaue to the local ecconomy of walking - especially visitors walking. A recent study in my county (Shropshire) by the council showed that conservatively the value of walking to the local ecconomy was £65M/year see -$file/5%20Value%20of%20Walking%20to%20the%20Local%20Economy%20presentation%20%5BCompatibility%20Mode%5D.pdf. A study for Wales showed an ecconomic value of £550M. Come on Councillor - these are not small numbers and the value to your local economy must be similar

vera said...

As someone who badly hurt her back, being able to walk to get back to some like the health I enjoyed before my DOING MY JOB BROKE MY BACK (SCHOOL CARETAKER)So rants from someone like this chap, makes my blood boil. I and I can speak for quite a number of folk take care when crossing feilds. Travers styles and other ways and means to enjoy this green and pleasant land. I would much prefer my excersise outdoors rather than like a lad rat at a gym