Time for a new manifesto for public access

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‘It is time for a new manifesto for public access in town and country,’ said Kate Ashbrook, our general secretary.

Kate Ashbrook speaking at the Kinder'91 event. Photo credit: Peter Judd.

Kate Ashbrook speaking at the Kinder’91 event. Photo credit: Peter Judd.

Kate was giving the keynote speech at the event to mark the 91st anniversary of the mass trespass on Kinder Scout on 24 April 1932.  The celebrations were held at Hayfield village hall, Derbyshire, at the foot of Kinder Scout.  Kate continued:

‘We must not let the memory of the Kinder trespassers fade.  Their courage is a lesson to us all that we cannot rest in our fight for greater freedom.

‘Some access has been won since 1932 but it is woefully inadequate.  We still can only enjoy about eight per cent of England on foot, and many of our public paths, which are highways in law, are blocked, abused, or unrecorded.

‘Three years ago, and more recently, ministers promised that money paid to farmers and land managers under the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) would be for more and better paths and access, but we have yet to see any proposals.  Now government has pledged that everyone should live within a 15-minute walk of “green or blue space”, but we have no idea how that can be achieved for the 12.5 million people who live further away than that.

‘Ministers must place public access at the heart of decision-making so that it is never neglected, with legally-binding targets to provide and protect it.  We need proper investment in access, recognising the huge savings that being active outdoors makes to the health service.

‘We should have greater rights of access to woods and watersides, and on water, bringing these opportunities closer to people’s homes.  ELMS must provide value for money, rewarding farmers who create access where people want and need it.  Our public paths need to be better maintained and fully recorded as required by law, and we need more, better-quality green spaces for people to enjoy close to home.

The gathering at the Kinder'91 event. Photo credit: OSS

The gathering at the Kinder’91 event. Photo credit: OSS

‘To achieve these things, we need a new impetus for access.  We must set out our manifesto.  We must lobby the politicians in the run-up to the general election.  And immediately we must lobby candidates in next month’s local elections for pledges to protect paths and spaces.

‘Today, here at the Kinder Rally—with all its memories of past campaigning—let us see how we can take this forward.

‘It is through such energetic and purposeful action that we shall keep the Kinder trespassers’ torch alight,’ Kate declared.

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