Sent to: all active volunteers who have registered on the Ramblers website.
24 May 2018
I hope you have been enjoying this wonderful walking weather. I have been able to lace up my boots regularly over the last month, including a fantastic day with Margaret Manning, chair of Greater Manchester and High Peak area, and representatives of local groups. We had a terrific walk on the beautiful, new 50 mile Salford Trail. As ever, I found the most valuable part of the day was having time and space to exchange perspectives, to try and walk in each other’s shoes, and to share our understanding about what is happening in different parts of our organisation, so that we can continue to work well together to help everyone to enjoy the outdoors on foot.
Shared learning, listening and mutual understanding were also to the fore at an excellent Welsh council at Gregynog Hall in Powys. Gregynog is a historic Welsh arts and conference centre, set in a stunning landscape. It hosts a famous music event each summer and, appropriately, the weekend had something of a festival feel, with much laughter and singing and a great twmpath (barn dance) on Saturday night. There was an exciting sense of progress in the air. Two new committee members were elected and the marvellous Will Renwick @WillWalksWales - the youngest person to walk the Wales Coast Path and Offa’s Dyke - was appointed as the new Ramblers Cymru president. This month’s newsletter video was recorded at the council.
I also spent time this month meeting more of our partners, including an inspiring invitation to join the Campaign To Protect Rural England (CPRE) board away-day in The National Forest outside Burton upon Trent. Established in 1995 as a brilliantly ambitious scheme to regenerate an ex-coalfields area, the forest now covers 200 square miles across Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire. With 22 circular walks and a 75 mile trail it is already a walker’s paradise. I have also continued to meet with our active travel partners: Living Streets, Sustrans, British Cycling, Cycling UK and the Bicycle Association. Together we are now developing an ambitious shared vision to make walking and cycling the natural choice for short journeys.
Back in the office, I have joined a busy and exciting round of valuable meetings. Our board mission and finance sub-committees have both met, in advance of our quarterly board meeting which takes place this week. We also ran an induction session to welcome our new trustees. And we held our quarterly business plan meeting, at which staff review progress against our business plan, prior to updating the board on our performance. I always find these kinds of regular meetings a great way to take stock of where we are and to see more clearly what is coming over the hill and what we need to do next, to ensure we remain focused on our most important priorities and are able to support each other in delivering them.
The need to remain united and supportive of each other is particularly true at the moment in terms of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As we all know, the new regulations come into force across the UK this week. Thank you to everyone who has worked so hard and well to prepare for it. We have provided guidance to ensure we are ready for GDPR, but the new legislation is complex and best practice is not yet clear. As such, we have committed to continuously seeking your feedback and evolving the guidance where necessary. We have heard some valuable concerns over the last few weeks and, as a result, we have re-clarified some of the existing guidance and amended one area of the guidance with immediate effect - as outlined in this newsletter below.
This month’s newsletter also includes a sincere thank you for your active engagement with this year’s Walk About festival, which starts this weekend. There are updates on key initiatives such as Don’t Lose Your Way, the Suffolk Network Rail inquiry, countryside protection work and our Agriculture Bill and Paving the Way campaigns. There is also exciting news from our data and digital transformation and membership teams who have been working together to include QR codes on membership cards. And there is some great news on rights of way, which I encourage us all to take a moment to celebrate…
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 7339 8578
VIDEO: May 2018 - Welsh council:
Walk About festival - thank you for all you have done to make it happen
View the festivals toolkit ►
Don’t Lose Your Way - please note the update on this exciting project
This important project, which is looking at how we support volunteers working on restoring historic rights of way, is now in full swing. During 2018 the project will be scoping the additional resources needed to ensure that we make the most of this one-time opportunity to correct the definitive map before 2026. We are looking at improving and enhancing our guidance and training, recruiting more volunteers, getting greater access to archive material and identifying any required IT solutions.
Take a look at the Don't Lose Your Way web pages ►
Data and digital transformation - please note the new QR codes on membership cards
As we reported last month, our new Ramblers insight hub (intelligence centre) is now being tested by a group of around 60 volunteers and staff. It currently features two useful pilot dashboards which cover Pathwatch issues and led walk participants respectively. We are now working on a volunteer dashboard and the hub is still on schedule to be rolled-out across the organisation by the end of the year. It is exciting to be able to see real data about our organisation and our work and we are looking forward to making the hub available to our wider staff and volunteer community after the testing period.
GDPR - please read the updated guidance and respond to the re-consent email
We started to work together on GDPR readiness in November last year when we shared the Ramblers data protection policy and some initial information about GDPR with you and asked you to start to prepare by doing some data housekeeping and identifying what personal data your group or area currently manages. In March, as promised, we issued new guidance in the GDPR toolkit and let you know that we had hired a data protection officer to work with you, to listen to your feedback and to support you to manage data in accordance with the new regulations over the coming months and years.
Throughout this process, we have committed to listening to your feedback and to updating you regularly. Since March we have made terrific progress together to put in place all the necessary procedures and policies to ensure that the Ramblers is ready for GDPR. Your responses are helping us to refine and evolve our guidelines and procedures, especially in the many “grey areas” within the new regulations, to ensure that our guidelines meet our needs across our organisation - at group, area and national level - and keep our charity operating within the law. As a result of your helpful input, we have now issued this update.
This update has already been sent to area and group chairs, secretaries and membership secretaries. It includes further clarification on four areas of the guidance which some of you have sought to understand in more depth, specifically: the re-consenting exercise (which commenced as planned in the middle of May), the retaining of historical archives, gaining media consent for images and photos, the maintaining of local lists and the sharing personal data. This update also includes a change of guidance with regards to the “grey area” of consent around newsletters and walk programmes.
Agriculture Bill - please let us know if you have examples of best practice to share
Countryside protection - please get in touch if you would like any support on these matters
You may have seen that Highways England has announced a plan to build a new bypass at Arundel in Sussex, which would cut through ancient woodland, part of the South Downs National Park and the tranquil Arun Valley. We are supporting the view of Sussex Ramblers that this scheme is unsuitable and are joining others, including the Campaign for Better Transport, the Campaign for National Parks and the Woodland Trust, to urge Highways England to rethink their plans.
Rights of way - please note three pieces of good news
Some of our volunteers applying for paths to be recognised as public rights of way have been waiting for decades for councils to investigate the evidence and make decisions on them. We have repeatedly argued that long delays are inconsistent with the Human Rights Act in terms of an individual having his/her civil rights determined “within a reasonable time”. The Government now appears to have accepted this - last month the Secretary of State for the Environment ordered Staffordshire Council to determine 14 outstanding claims by one of our volunteers - some of them over 21 years old. In making this direction, the Inspector cited the human rights legislation, confirming our view that such long delays are unlawful.
On 3 May an Inspector confirmed an order adding 1,130 metres of public right of way to the definitive map at Tregony in Cornwall. It was not the Ramblers who applied for the order, but Cornwall Ramblers volunteers appeared at the public inquiry and spoke in support. The claim was based on a combination of old documentary evidence and evidence of modern use. The Ramblers contended that the existence of vehicular rights was demonstrated by an ancient map of 1749 and that other maps also showed the way’s public status. The Inspector agreed, and confirmed the order, preserving a useful right of way in a beautiful ancient holloway, connect an outlying hamlet, Reskivers, with the village of Tregony.
Paving the Way - please continue to share the Charter
Last week we presented Hastings with our first ever Britain’s Best Walking Neighbourhood Award. Congratulations to Anthony Slack who nominated Hastings and to all the other volunteers who helped their winning campaign. If you think that your neighbourhood deserves to win in future, then please get your nomination in for 2019, it is never too early to start. Thank you also to all those of you who contacted your council candidates ahead of the local elections across England earlier this month – over 50 councillors have already signed up, with those in Manchester and Salford leading the way.
View and share the Charter ►
Contacting the chair of the board of trustees - please note the chair’s email address
As we reported in this newsletter last month, Kate Ashbrook was elected as the Ramblers new chair at general council in April. Many of you already know Kate as a campaigner who believes fervently that the Ramblers must publicise its excellent work and celebrate its achievements whilst explaining to the public the challenges that we still face to enable everyone to enjoy walking. Kate’s knowledge of the Ramblers is extensive – she was previously a trustee for 30 years (1982-2012), twice chair, president from 2012-2016 and now a vice-president, having served last year as vice-chair. Kate is also general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, trustee of the Campaign for National Parks and patron of the Walkers are Welcome towns network.
Ramblers Shop - please make use of a fantastic offer
Go to the Ramblers online shop ►
Ramblers Scotland - thank you to all those who made the annual Gathering a success
More than 100 walkers enjoyed a packed weekend of chatty walks, interesting trails and fun social events at Ramblers Scotland’s annual Gathering festival, held in Perth in early May. Well done to all the volunteers who made it another successful Gathering: it is 38 years since the event began! We’re also very grateful to players of People’s Postcode Lottery for their support this year. You can see some photos from the event here. Next year the Gathering will go to the Scottish Borders, with more details to follow nearer the time.