Derbyshire County Council’s decision to continue their original plan on Rushup Edge is an absolute kick in the teeth.
A kick in the teeth for KoftheP, Peak District MTB, the Local Access Forum, Ride Sheffield, the Peak District National Park Authority, the British Mountaineering Council, the Friends of the Peak District, Natural England and thousands of trail users.
A kick in the teeth for everyone who posted in support of the campaign, for everyone who wrote, called and emailed DCC asking them to properly reconsider.
A kick in the teeth for the so-called ‘consultation process’ which was clearly just a totally disingenuous exercise in ‘listening’ by DCC.
But perhaps most worryingly, it was a kick in the teeth for the democratic process upon which a council like DCC should operate.
The stats collected by PDMTB show that most users of the trail don’t want the repairs. Thousands of you responded saying no. The DCC argument is simply not right, not logical and completely unjustified. Expert guidance blew massive holes in their central argument yet DCC have chosen to completely ignore it. Thousands of Derbyshire residents have supported the campaign – which comes at a time of major cuts in the county council’s front line services.
Yet the Rights of Way team at Derbyshire have simply ignored this measured, balanced response and misrepresented the views of the collective campaigners. They’ve created a report which makes out that the only opposition was from mountain bikers; which anyone who has read the various reports will know is rubbish. And they’ve then presented this misleading and misrepresentative report to the councillors who were expected to make an ‘informed’ decision based on fact.
All in all it’s pretty crap.
But is there a silver lining? We have to look for one. To me, this whole process has delivered one great result – there is a huge community now. The biking community has come together, and importantly we’ve built links with other groups; horse riders, walkers, climbers, conservationists, disabled access groups. We’ve learnt a whole lot of lessons about council operations, media briefing, campaigning (to which we were/are all new).
It may not be over; it isn’t until a spade is in the ground, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a victory.
Next step? We’re working on it.