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Downs for People celebrate their victory

People power

November 18, 2021

So often success depends on the power of people coming together, writes our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook. Whether they are saving Bristol’s downs from car-parking, protecting London’s commons from commercial exploitation, or winning access to Worthing’s hinterland, the campaigning clout of local people is fundamental. And it always has been—witness the mass trespasses on Bolton’s…

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Police on Wanstead Flats July 1871. Credit Essex Field Club

Book reviews autumn 2021

November 18, 2021

James Chuter Ede by Stephen Hart (Pen & Sword £25 hardback, 354 pages). They don’t make politicians like Chuter Ede (1882-1965) any more. He came from a nonconformist (Unitarian) background and began in active politics as a Liberal. He joined the Labour Party towards the end of WWI in his mid-thirties, having served as a…

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Flooded bridleway in the Piddle Valley, Dorset

Piddle Valley bridleway

November 18, 2021

In the Piddle Valley, north of Dorchester in Dorset, a 2.5-mile bridleway has been a historic link between the three villages of Piddletrenthide, White Lackington, and Piddlehinton. Today it is in a parlous state. The Piddle Path Action Team writes of its efforts to restore it. The bridleway today is in places impassable for much…

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The non-highway land (where the car is parked). Photo: Brian Keates

Much ado about nothing

November 18, 2021

Our Coventry local correspondent John Hall, with assistance from one of our case officers, Hugh Craddock, exposes the sloppy approach to rights-of-way matters by the National Transport Casework Team (NTCT), and persuades it to put things right. In March, the NTCT proposed to make two orders under section 247 of the Town and Country Planning…

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Commercial commons

November 18, 2021

Local authorities in south London, keen on exploiting their commons and open spaces, are facing stiff opposition from local campaigners, writes our local correspondent for Lambeth and Wandsworth, Jeremy Clyne. Clapham Common has become a battleground because of Lambeth Council’s misuse of a large area, known as the ‘events site’. This is closed to the…

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John Collett Emery, 1930-2020

November 18, 2021

Our member John Emery has died aged 90. He has left us a generous gift of £10,000. His nephew, Lewis Turner, writes of his life. John, the youngest of three children, was born and grew up in the village of Garn-yr-erw near the industrial town of Blaenavon in Torfaen. The rugged mountains surrounding his home…

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Our general secretary opens Nottingham’s historic town trail

September 24, 2021

On Sunday 26 September our general secretary, Kate Ashbrook, will open Nottingham’s Victorian Town Trail. The five-mile route has been devised by the Friends of the Forest with Nottingham City Council to mark and celebrate the 130 acres of open space won by the people of Nottingham when land was inclosed under the Inclosure Act…

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Seventy-fifth anniversary of Home Secretary’s stepping-stones

September 10, 2021

On 11 September 2021 we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the repaired stepping-stones on the North Downs Way, across the River Mole at Burford Bridge, Westhumble, near Dorking in Surrey (grid reference TQ172 512). The land is owned by the National Trust. The stones were replaced by James Chuter Ede, a member of the Open…

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Winter Hill trespass a milestone, but still a long way to go

September 3, 2021

The Winter Hill mass demo in 1896 was a milestone in the history of public access—but we still have a long way to go.’  So declares our general secretary Kate Ashbrook, who will speak on 5 September at the 125th anniversary event of the Winter Hill mass trespass.  Kate also spoke at the centenary event…

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Attendees at the event on 15 July

The Downs are for people, not for cars

July 21, 2021

A celebration of success after 25 years of campaigning On 15 July our general secretary Kate Ashbrook and case officer Hugh Craddock joined group member, Downs for People[1] (DfP), for a celebration of the success in its recent court case challenging the secret grant of a twenty-year licence for zoo parking.  As well as putting…

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