Support us from £3/month
We deal with almost 1000 cases a year assisting communities, groups and individuals in protecting their local spaces and paths in all parts of England and Wales. Can you help us by joining as a member?
‘We should never forget that the Open Spaces Society is a hard hitting, agile and quick reacting campaigning organisation, able and willing to be controversial, radical and perhaps at times unpopular in pursuit of its charitable objects.’
So said Tim Crowther, our chairman, in moving the adoption of the society’s annual report at our annual general meeting on Tuesday 10 July.
Tim continued: ‘What we don’t want in our strategy documents is aspirational waffle and jargon-laden claptrap. We must remain clear thinking and clear speaking in our defence of open spaces and public paths in town and country.
‘There are plenty of new issues where we should make our voice heard. The growing controversy over the provision of private, rather than public, open space allied to retail and commercial developments; the idea of rewilding our countryside and urban spaces, and the crucial role that common land can play in this; and the generous provision of accessible open space when land is sold for development—to name a few.
‘The society has never been needed more, and we have formed ourselves into a limited company better to equip us to face the challenges which lie ahead,’ said Tim.
Added Kate Ashbrook, the society’s general secretary: ‘There is much to campaign for. Our current issues include:
• the government’s failure to implement nationwide provisions in the Commons Act 2006 to enable us to rescue “lost” commons,
• the uncertain future for England’s National Trails following a consultation from Natural England which aims to shift the maintenance of these vital routes to local partnerships,
• a possible change in the law in England, to make it more difficult to register land as new town or village greens and thereby confirm local rights of recreation and outlaw development,
• the new planning system in England, and the potential threat to green spaces, with uncertainty about the proposed new local green space designation,
• plans in Wales to merge the Countryside Council for Wales, Environment Agency and Forestry Commission into a super-quango within which the protection and promotion of landscape and public access could well get lost,
• slashed budgets everywhere, from Defra and Natural England to local authorities, which mean that commons, green spaces and paths are demoted to the bottom of the heap and get little if any funding.’
Kate continued: ‘But we have had glimmers of good news: the recent report from the independent panel on forestry with its positive attitude to public ownership and access, and the launch of the first stretch of new coastal access, from Weymouth to Lulworth, give us some cause for hope—though we shall need to keep up our lobbying.
‘Our feisty society will remain at the forefront of campaigns to protect our open spaces and paths for the benefit of all,’ Kate concluded.