Plans & Change of 13 Feb Club Ride to Chopwell Demo
To: All Members of Hamsterley Trailblazers
As you are aware from my previous email, we discussed the Government
consultation document ‘The Future of the Public Forest Estate
in England’ (see http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-pfeconsultation)
at last night’s meeting of Hamsterley Trailblazers.
The meeting was extremely well attended and alongside members,
we had representatives of IMBA, the Durham Fell Runners, the Horse
Riding Association and Bill Oxbrough from Hamsterley’s MP’s
You should already be aware of the proposals in the document
from my previous emails (if not see News Item on the Home Page
of our website - http://www.hamsterley-trailblazers.co.uk/)
• It was unanimously AGREED at the meeting
that these proposals potentially presented the gravest threat
to off-road cycling that had ever been experienced and needed
to be fought at every level. Cycling in FC owned forests is purely
permissive, it is NOT a protected right and the
government statement in the document that it will ‘seek
to secure equivalent rights as part of any transfer to new owners
and managers’ is NOT considered by any
means strong enough to protect our forest cycling facilities.
• The CTC and IMBA have both come out against the proposals
– see http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5483
for the CTC’s statement. We are still waiting to hear from
• The designation of Hamsterley as a ‘Multi-purpose
forest’ that could be sold at it’s market value to
a community group or charity (or if they didn’t take up
that offer – sold or leased to a private buyer) is seen
as the worst of all the options set out by the government. The
forest is 5,000 acres and at £2,500 to £6,000 per
acre, could cost between £12 and £30 million to buy.
After purchase, the new owner (charity, community group or private
individual) would – under present employment legislation
(TUPE) – have to take responsibility for existing FC staff
– including any redundancy payments, salaries, pensions
and other benefits. A similar situation has just resulted in a
charity in Darlington needing to find £250,000 in redundancy
payments for staff it had no previous responsibility for. See
• An examination of the costings show it is unlikely the
proposals will raise any money for the government – indeed,
it is quite likely they will cost the tax payer more.
• It is not at all clear why the government wants to do
this wholesale reorganisation and disposal of public land.
We need to campaign as hard as we can to get the government to
think again on these proposals…. We
only have until 21 April to do anything.
SO: I ask if you would help stop the proposals by taking the
following action as soon as possible:
1. SIGN as many petitions as you can against the proposals –
here are some that you can sign up to online:-
2. WRITE to your MP (particularly Conservative and Lib Dem ones)
to express your objections and concern over the proposals.
3. COME to the following events: Sunday 13 Feb 1pm – Chopwell
Wood – Show of Concern. Cycle or walk (see the Newsletter
I circulated yesterday from Ted Liddle, Tyne Valley MTB for full
details.) At yesterday’s meeting we agreed to support this
rather than have our usual monthly ride – but we will be
meeting for a ride beforehand at Chopwell – at 10.30am in
the main carpark in centre of Chopwell Woods at the start of the
Pylon Route for a 2 hour ride – then a sarnie lunch (bring
it with you) back at the car park before joining the big Demo
COME to the ‘Hands off Hamsterley’ Ride/Trek on Saturday
26 February – meeting 11am by WoodNWheels. Again –
cycle or walk and bring as many people as you can with you!
4. WRITE to as many other MPs as you can – especially the
Conservative and Lib Dem ones.
5. WRITE to the press to express your concern
6. TELL as many of your family and friends about the campaign
and get them to sign petitions, take action etc.
I will keep you advised of developments as and when they occur
– there are signs the Government is re-thinking –
we must all do our best to make sure they do so, or risk losing
the cycling facilities we’ve all enjoyed – let alone
losing any opportunity to develop and improve them.
Do contact me if you have any queries – AND PLEASE LET
ME ME KNOW IF YOU CAN GET TO THE TWO EVENTS ON 13 AND 26 FEB!!!
Secretary, Hamsterley Trailblazers