Essex Area Ramblers

At the heart of walking in Essex

20 June 2017

Hello All
The Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks and the unimaginable horror that unfolded at Grenfell Tower last week have been terrible to witness. But the ways in which communities are responding to these tragedies is uplifting. A year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1963, John F. Kennedy said "Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." It gives me comfort to be reminded of the value of unity in diversity – and unity in adversity – at times like this.
I experienced this unity first-hand when I joined a wonderful walk last week with the Inner London area, through three of the city’s beautiful parks (Green, Hyde and St James). It was heartening to be surrounded by people of different races, genders and ages, all determined to continue to enjoy the tranquil surroundings and each other’s precious company. Our Ramblers mission is to help to create a country where everyone can enjoy the outdoors on foot and benefit from the experience. The healing power of nature, freedom and friendly companionship seems particularly precious right now.
In a similarly heartening and poignant way, the Manchester and High Peaks area, along with our president and chair of the board of trustees, officially opened the new Salford Trail in the aftermath of the Manchester attack. It is a long distance walk of around 50 miles / 80 kilometres, set entirely within the boundaries of the City of Salford. It has been divided into ten sections, each of which is fully accessible by public transport. It is a terrific initiative and you can read more about it here.
This newsletter includes updates on other terrific initiatives, including information on planned next steps following our general election activities. Thank you to everyone who used our email tool to contact your prospective parliamentary candidates. Together, we delivered an effective campaign which has yielded some great opportunities to influence MPs further. This newsletter also includes new information from General Council 2017 including an update on motions and a link to the draft minutes, as it is important that we keep this dialogue going in between our annual councils.
As I write, the sky outside is blue and it really does feel like summer. Everything in our garden is suddenly exploding into flower. The grass is dusted with daisies and I can smell roses and lavender through the open window. The dog is staring at me with one of those looks in her eyes. The media is predicting the hottest summer on record…I think it is time for a walk…and I wish you, and your friends and families, much tranquil and peaceful walking over the coming month.
Vanessa Griffiths, chief executive officer
Phone: 020 7339 8578
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @RamblerVan


General election – please invite your MP to take a walk with your area

Thank you to everyone who wrote to their candidates during the general election to call for a walking Britain. We had a good response to the campaign, with our supporters reaching candidates in almost 90% of constituencies. The positive responses from candidates have been streaming in as well, and we now have a good list of MPs who may champion our cause in Parliament. We will be reaching out to them in order to help build a walking Britain.

Understandably, there is uncertainty around Westminster at the moment. The government will soon start making decisions about the future of agricultural policy, the England Coast Path, our urban walking environments and the role of walking in improving our mental and physical health. Building relationships with MPs is vital for us to make sure that the potential changes are implemented in a way that is as advantageous as possible for our members and for Britain’s 9 million walkers.

We will be getting in touch with all new MPs over the coming weeks, but we know MPs listen most intently to their own constituents. We need your help to build these vital relationships by getting in touch with your MPs and inviting them to meet you, and your area team, for a walk. We will be able to offer guidance on how to arrange these meetings, support for securing press coverage, briefings on what you may wish to talk to your MP about, and staff presence on the walk if you would find this useful. If your area is interested in arranging a walk with your MP then please do contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will give you all the support you need.

MPs can be great advocates for walkers within their constituencies and regularly use their influence to support ramblers when campaigning on local footpath issues. For example, as I mentioned in my May newsletter, in a recent public inquiry concerning the closure of a footpath at Harrow School, the local MP appeared alongside the Ramblers to argue the case for the path to stay open and helped us to achieve such a tremendous result.  

General Council (GC) 2017 – an update on motions and draft council minutes

At the board meeting in May, the trustees reviewed the motions from GC2017 and agreed next steps. I’m pleased to say there has been quite a lot of progress already. We’ve made the Brexit motion from Somerset and Cornwall the centre-piece of our general election campaign and, as outlined in the item above, we will continue to work with new parliamentarians and other stakeholders to ensure access is a key component in any new agricultural subsidy system. Please do look out for a complementary feature on access in the autumn issue of walk magazine.
We will also pick up the issue of ploughing and cropping as part of this access work. Last week, our policy staff met with Natural England to discuss the future role of the Rural Payments Agency. In terms of support for areas, and our Don’t Lose Your Way campaign, as I mentioned in this newsletter last month, we are currently recruiting our new area support manager and we are also seeking to recruit a Don’t Lose Your Way project manager over the next couple of months. With regards to shared use, we have recently met with both Living Streets and Sustrans and have scheduled a meeting in mid-July for the group of volunteers who will work with staff and the trustees to develop new guidance on shared use, which will then go out for wider consultation.
Our new governance manager, Simon Kellas, will be joining us from the Institute of Physics in July. Simon will be working with the policy team to ensure that we continue to update you on our progress on GC2017 motions over the coming year. I am also pleased to be able to share the draft minutes for GC2017 with you here. These minutes will be approved at General Council 2018. I know that last year these draft minutes were not circulated until very close to GC2017 and that this was a source of frustration for some of you. I hope the early circulation this year demonstrates to you that we are committed to ensuring that we improve communication between council members, staff and trustees over the coming year.
I am also aware that the board had an outstanding action with respect to motion (4), which the Surrey area put forward at GC2016. The trustees have now revisited this action and reached a conclusion which I thought was important to share with you. As some of you will already be aware, this motion required the board to report on the options relating to the previous governance review by September 2017. Progress on this motion was raised again at GC2017 and I confirmed at council that I had been instructed by the board to review this matter and to provide an update to the trustees at their May board. In this board meeting, it was agreed that the previous governance review is now closed and that no new report is to be commissioned by the board at the current time.
Our new governance manager will work with myself and with the board over the coming nine months to review external best practice in terms of charity governance membership and report back to the trustees at their board meeting in May 2018 on any key findings. I hope this outcome is satisfactory and that it will bring to a close a few turbulent years in our governance and enable us all to focus on moving forward together as one team, to ensure the Ramblers continues to thrive for the next 85 years and is able to fulfil our valuable mission.

Development opportunity – update on area induction and opportunity to register interest

Ten senior area volunteers from across England gave their time to attend a two day induction at the Ramblers London office. Over two days of presentations, discussions, a lovely meal and a fascinating walk through the heart of London, volunteers and staff got to know each other and shared their passion for the Ramblers and for taking our mission forward together. We usually run these inductions every six months, so the next one is likely to be in January 2018. The inductions are intended for new area chairs and secretaries, but are also relevant for existing area chairs and secretaries who would like a refresher on their roles and on the breadth of our work. For more information or to register interest in attending one of these inductions, please contact Diane Simcoe (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), area support officer.

Our president – how to make contact with him if you would like him to attend an event

As you know, Stuart Maconie was elected as our president at this year’s General Council. We’re really pleased to have his support and he’s already helping to spread the word about the important work that the Ramblers does. We are keen to make the most of Stuart’s presidency and to maximise the impact he can have for the Ramblers. As you can imagine, he is in great demand already and although he is very willing to help, he does have limited availability and therefore we need to carefully coordinate requests for his time to ensure we don’t collectively overwhelm him with invitations.

If you have an event which you would like Stuart to attend, in his capacity as Ramblers president, please email Ellie Clewlow (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), senior media & PR officer, and Stuart’s main contact at the Ramblers. Ellie will be able to run any request by Stuart and check his availability. If you can think of alternative ways Stuart could support your event - for example providing a supportive quote to add to a press release - then please speak to Ellie and she can approach Stuart to ask for his assistance with this.

Walking for Health – please volunteer to help us to shape the future of this programme

As you will be aware from previous updates in these newsletters, the exclusive partnership agreement between Macmillan Cancer Support and the Ramblers for funding of the Walking for Health programme has come up for review and will end in March 2018. We are currently exploring future funding options, and are taking the opportunity to review how we work in partnership with others to deliver Walking for Health, and how we deliver the outcomes we want to achieve.

As part of this review, we will be leading a consultation process to help us identify how best we can achieve impact through the Walking for Health programme, and ensure it is helping us to deliver the Ramblers’ strategic ambitions. We are keen to get your input, as well as that of all the interested volunteers and members in your area and groups, and we will be sharing more information about how we will do this shortly. If you have any questions about this in the meantime or are keen to be involved, please contact Rob Wallis (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Walking for Health programme manager.

Local organisers – training for new campaigners and a further chance to volunteer

It is fantastic that 25 walkers from across the country have already signed up to be part of our new volunteer local organiser network. We are holding the first training session on 21 June. If there is someone signed up in your area, we will be in touch soon to let you know and to talk about how you would like to work with them.

In the meantime, please get in touch with Laura Burley (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), campaigns officer, if you have any questions. The role is open-ended and we will be running more training sessions in the near future, so it's not too late to encourage someone you know to apply for the role. You can find more information about the role and about how local organisers will work with areas and groups on our website.

Two area success stories - in Yorkshire and in Cornwall

Residents whose large gardens back onto an urban footpath in Goole, Humberside, persuaded East Riding of Yorkshire Council to make an order to extinguish a 224-metre strategic footpath between estate roads. The path is well-used and a good short cut, away from the noise and fumes of roads, but the adjacent residents said that anti-social behaviour occurred on the path so it should be shut, and East Riding of Yorkshire Council agreed, and made the order, despite the legitimate use.

Some people objected to the order. Amongst the objectors were Tony Corrigan, footpath secretary and Mike Jackson, his predecessor as footpath secretary, Ramblers East Yorkshire and Derwent area. Alan Kind of the Byway and Bridleway Trust objected too. They pointed out that if the path were lit and better-maintained, instead of partially obstructed, it would be used more, and there could be less of the alleged misconduct. They also pointed out that other statutory tools, e.g., night-time gating, were available and should be tried first.

The Inspector agreed with the Ramblers that there was no case for extinguishing the path and the criteria in section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 were not met, so on 4 May 2017 she declined to confirm the order following a site visit and on hearing the Ramblers’ representations.

In another success story, on 18 May, Planning Inspector Susan Doran confirmed an order made by Cornwall Council to add 32 metres of bridleway to the definitive map and upgrade 65 metres of footpath to bridleway status, making the route usable by cyclists as well as walkers.  These may be only short lengths, but they are strategically important as they close an existing gap in the network. The result is that bridleway number 2 Cardinham now connects with footpath number 1 Cardinham, so walkers can turn off there if they like; meanwhile riders and cyclists can continue on the upgraded stretch to connect with a byway-type unclassified road, the U6139. It is a great result for horse riders, cyclists and walkers, thanks to the Cornwall Ramblers’ support of the order.

Ramblers Roadshows – a chance to book your free place at one of the remaining events

In partnership with Ramblers Walking Holidays and local area volunteers, the 2017 roadshows are a great opportunity to get the most out of your Ramblers membership. You can sign up for walking skills sessions and volunteer support workshops and meet other members, walking experts and specialist partners. The roadshows have received terrific feedback and there are still places available at our events in Swansea, Edinburgh and Kendal. You can find out dates and details and book your free place here.

Ramblers Cymru – update on the Rights of Way group and introduction to new staff

The Rights of Way and Access group in Wales reached its first anniversary this month, having been revived last year to bring together some of our most experienced members. The group holds deep knowledge to help inform and tackle footpath and access issues at a national level. The group is currently focusing its attention on a number of important issues including the case for the Wales Coast Path becoming a National Trail; how Ramblers groups are consulted on planning applications; and how the Welsh Government can be urged to bring forward its overdue legislative proposals for improved access. At a local level, members of the Rights of Way group continue to make a real difference, most recently securing another success at a public inquiry objecting to the downgrading of a bridleway near the village of Abercarn in South Wales.  

The Ramblers Cymru staff team is now up to strength with three new staff members joining in June: Catherine Morgan, area support and administration officer; Amber Powell, people and walking officer; and Amanda Hill, walking spaces officer. Kate Marshall has moved to her new post as communications and engagement officer. It is an exciting time, with lots of new energy and enthusiasm for helping deliver our ten year vision in Wales.  If you are attending the national roadshow in Swansea on 24 June, some of the team will be there, so please do go and say hello.


Ramblers Scotland – opportunity for potential area training coordinators

Would you like to coordinate training for walkers throughout your area? Our Lothian & Borders area have enjoyed considerable success since doing just that a few years ago by creating a structured training programme to help members from 11 groups build their skills and confidence. Now we are keen to replicate that success by identifying training coordinators in areas across Scotland. As well as helping to improve the skills of members, coordinating training at group level can make it cheaper and easier to organise training days, as there is not enough demand within single groups. Please contact Jeannie Cranfiled (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), delivery officer, for more information.

Disputes and complaints – corrected contact details for those seeking advice

If you would like advice about disputes or complaints within your area or group, please email Tanya Kynaston (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), or call 0207 339 8590. Please note that in the last newsletter there was an error in the telephone number and this one should be used instead.

Monday, December 18, 2017