Campaigns

Shouldn’t be surprised….

DCC have reported back and lo and behold DCC have decided to ignore the whole campaign and quite literally plough on regardless (see Duped). Needless to say, we’re not that impressed and we’re looking at what options are available to us.

Rushup Edge latest

Another month, another complete lack of update from DCC as to what is happening on Rushup Edge. A few weeks ago, working with the ever excellent Peak District MTB, we decided to nudge things along a little. We’d been told that Peter White would be preparing a report to send to Cllr Dean Collins, the man in charge of the money. In order to support Peter’s report…(!)….we decided to pick out some of the pertinent points we expected it would make and contact Cllr Collins directly. Here’s the letter, which was enclosed with the official PDMTB response and the various letters which are referred to. We’re still awaiting a reply.

Cllr Dean Collins

29 Markham Crescent,
Lowgates,
Staveley,
Chesterfield,
S43 3PJ

06 March 2014

Dear Councillor Collins,

In March you will receive a report on the ongoing resurfacing works at Rushup Edge. This will be prepared by one of your officers, Peter White.

The report should reflect the overwhelmingly negative feeling towards these works from the vast majority of people who use the path. These views have been expressed by a wide range of user groups. It should reflect the inappropriate surfacing approach being taken and the highlight the as yet un-forecast, long term, ongoing maintenance costs which will be involved. The report should highlight the statistics which show that the majority of users of the trail state that their enjoyment of the area will be impacted and that they will be less likely to visit. It should also show that Derbyshire County Council have completed no quantitative research into the numbers of people who use the path.

Though mountain bikers make up a large number of those who have expressed displeasure with the planned works, the report should also show that many, many other users also oppose the work as planned.

Peak District MTB, Ride Sheffield, Keeper Of The Peak, the Peak District National Park Authority, the British Mountaineering Council, the Friends of the Peak District and thousands of trail users, are all united against the plans. Their responses are enclosed. The work has also raised concern amongst Members of Parliament, Andrew Bingham and Patrick McLoughlin. Andrew Bingham MP wrote directly to Peter White. This is enclosed. Natural England has also queried the approach taken. Local disability access campaign group, Accessible Derbyshire, was not consulted.

Recent reports show that mountain biking brings in millions of pounds to an economy when it is embraced. Wales has approximately eight million tourist visitors a year. Of that group, mountain bikers contributed over £23 million to the economy. The Peak District has over 10 million visitors annually.

We ask that you make a critical review of all reports handed to you and take a balanced and common sense approach to your decision on the future of Rushup Edge.

We are, of course, on hand to answer any questions you may have about Rushup Edge and would welcome and encourage dialogue with you.

Regards

What happened before that?

As there is seemingly still no forthcoming update on how Rushup Edge will be handled, I thought I’d get in touch with Peter White at Derbyshire County Council for an update. I got a response quite quickly – which was good, but it was the response shown here, which was pretty poor.

The closing date was 16 January 2015 and as yet I have not had the opportunity to look at the representations. I hope to start on that part of the process next week. Consequently I cannot provide a timescale for determination at this point nor a start date for the continuation of the work.
Regards,
Peter
Peter J White
Rights of Way Officer

This was followed by the following tweet from DCC, which would suggest it’s probably time to turn up the heat once more

Capture

Keeper Of The Peak response to Derbyshire County Council

January 16th 2015

Keeper of the Peak (@KoftheP) is an award-winning service dedicated to sharing trail conditions, promoting responsible trail use and improved dialogue between groups in the Peak District.

Based on Twitter, the ‘community’ is now over 1100 users strong and the feed has been recognised as an influential and useful tool for uniting and rallying the mountain biking community. Increasingly other groups are beginning to use and contribute to @KoftheP.

The first rumblings of discontent regarding the work on Rushup Edge appeared on @KoftheP in October 2014, and within days I was working closely with other advocacy groups in the area to coordinate our objections.

As such, @KoftheP shares wholeheartedly the concerns raised by Peak District MTB, Ride Sheffield, Friends of the Peak, the BMC and those who objected to the works at the recent Local Access Forum.

I, speaking on behalf of followers of @KoftheP, support the recommendations that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) should:

  • remove all materials that have been placed on the route and return it to its original state
  • ensure that all maintenance is as sensitive, minimal and sustainable as possible for this and all future work on rights of way
  • ensure that the current materials are removed and replaced with a planned and designed stone setting approach to reasonably accommodate all amenity users as has been achieved on a nearby route, if maintenance or repair to this route is unavoidable
  • ensure that smaller steps remain and that solid bedrock is left intact and visible, remaining consistent with the nature of the high moorland trail, should the larger steps be removed

Regarding the priority of maintenance on the route, I believe Rushup Edge is a low priority route in line with the Countryside Agency and English Nature’s definition:

  • Paths in sites where accessible facilities are not present, or where it is inappropriate and economically unviable to provide such facilities
  • Isolated paths where few people are likely to use the route (those in areas of significant heritage value may be an exception to this rule)
  • Paths where accessible public transport or parking places are unlikely to be provided
  • Paths where the natural site constraints do not allow for fully accessible paths
  • Paths in locations with high landscape value, where the visual impact of a fully accessible path cannot be overcome
  • Paths in open countryside/wild land
  • Paths where the cost of improving and maintaining to the highest access standards cannot be justified

It is my firm belief that Derbyshire County Council’s Rights of Way team have failed to sufficiently consult with users affected by these changes and that despite repeated and consistent objection, that they are determined to continue the work regardless of concerns raised.

As an aside, regarding the use of social media in objecting to the work. Derbyshire County Council stated that the social media campaign had caused the council significant trouble over the weeks it was conducted.

I would note that social media tools – be they Facebook, Twitter, email, web forums – cannot be blamed for causing Derbyshire County Council Rights of Way team members inconvenience or ‘trouble’. Instead, Derbyshire County Council Rights of Way team should look to their own failure to consult adequately for users taking to social media to object. Whether or not DCC could manage the ‘unprecedented level’ of response is not the fault of the tools used.

In summary,

  • Overwhelmingly users of this path are not in support of the planned work
  • Your justification for the works is not supported by recommendations of subject matter experts in this area
  • Your actions have galvanised an important and influential cross-interest group against Derbyshire County Council and you must take steps to work with and respect this group

I remain hopeful that you will reconsider your position in light of the response to Rushup Edge, as do many, many thousands of others.

Yours sincerely,

@KoftheP

DSCF0233 photo 3

Rushup-gate – the story so far

Back on October 23rd, I had a tweet from @simcis

“Appalled to see the new trail flattening on the bottom section of rushup edge”

A few more tweets and it became clear that something pretty poor had happened on Rushup Edge, close to Chapel-en-le-Frith. Derbyshire County Council (DCC) had begun the process of resurfacing an iconic path, without giving anyone sufficient heads up.

Soon hundreds of riders, walkers, runners, climbers, MPs and other users of the trail joined together to voice their disapproval of the work.

What started out as a simple trail update tweet had become a fully blown media campaign, spearheaded by Peak District MTB (PDMTB), @KoftheP, Ride Sheffield (RS) and PASA. Soon, the campaign was joined by the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and Friends of the Peak (FOTP). The Peak District National Park Authority and Natural England were informed of the work and Derbyshire County Council found themselves fending off angry comments from a huge range of people.

Late October and a picnic protest was arranged by PDMTB member Esther Hobson.  Stories appeared in the press. Supporters appeared on the radio. And all the while more and more people bombarded DCC with angry questions, comments and requests for information.

DCC were forced to pause the work and consult properly.

More importantly, mountain bikers from across the north of England (and beyond) organised themselves, united and stood up to represent the views of all users of Rushup Edge.

DCC had no choice but to listen and in December alongside PDMTB, RS, BMC and FOTP, @KoftheP was invited to a meeting with the Rights of Way team in Matlock to voice our objection in person.

DCC showed a revised plan and promised to change the way they went about things. A successful meeting then? Comments on a subsequent site visit by Peter White, Rights of Way officer at DCC and PDMTB and RS suggested they had no such intentions.

Back to square one.

But no. By now, thanks to the great work of Peak District MTB, Ride Sheffield, Friends of the Peak, the BMC and of course followers of @KoftheP, the objection to the works was so vociferous that DCC were forced to hold an extraordinary meeting to hear the views of all stakeholders. The result was a resounding rejection of their justification.

It’s mid-January now. Formal responses have been submitted. The work is still paused.

Thousands wait to see DCC’s next move.

You can read the @KoftheP response here.

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One thought on “Campaigns

  1. Pingback: Whitewash? | Keeper of the peak – @kofthep

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