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articles > 2011

The Wainwright Society response to Cumbria CC proposals to cuts in funding
to countryside access services in Cumbria

Press Release - 4th January 2011
The following statement is The Wainwright Society's response to the public
consultation on Cumbria County Council priorities and budget options ......

The Wainwright Society views with alarm the possible effects of the proposed cuts to the funding of countryside access services in Cumbria.  In particular, the Society is concerned that:

- the suggested reductions in expenditure to a 'statutory minimum' on the footpath network may well have a cumulative effect on the maintenance and access of public rights of way that could, over time, damage the gradual improvement that has resulted from the significant investment in recent years;

- additional pressure on an underfunded and understaffed team to respond effectively to rights of way and open access problems will further degrade the economic and social benefits to the local economy brought by tourism;

- if the reduction in expenditure were to be anything other than short-term, then there may be incremental damage to the landscape that could take years to reverse;

- as the 'responsible organisation' for the future way-marking of the line of Alfred Wainwright's Coast to Coast Walk and the 247-mile re-creation of his 1938 A Pennine Journey, the loss of grant aid from the Government to support the management, monitoring and maintenance of National Trails may well result in the gradual deterioration of the sections of the Pennine Way and Hadrian's Wall Path that lie on Wainwright's routes.

Whilst recognising that none of the services funded by the authorities can be insulated from the effects of The Spending Review, the concerns of The Wainwright Society could be allayed if Cumbria County Council would commit to rebuilding its countryside grants towards past levels once the current financial problems have eased.
The Society believes that there is too much at stake for wholesale changes to be rushed through without time for proper consultation with interested parties, whose views could well lead to more sensible, structural changes and a more beneficial outcome for local residents and visitors alike.

Eric Robson, Chairman of the Wainwright Society and also of Cumbria Tourism says, 'Many of these threatened changes are the worst sort of false economy.  We already get an internationally renowned footpath system on the cheap, relying on volunteers and charitable donations for much of the work. If the quite small sums of enabling public finance are now to be removed huge and lasting damage will be done to an industry that contributes £2 billion a year to the Cumbrian economy.'

This statement has been sent to Eddie Martin (Cumbria County Council Leader), Tony Markley (Economy & Highways including Rights of Way) and the Chairman of the Cumbria Local Access Forum

Derek Cockell
Press & Publicity Officer
The Wainwright Society