The voluntary sector in rights of way and access to the countryside has been active for over 100 years. Without the energy, drive, and far-sightedness of a core of volunteers, founded upon a much wider base of interest, there would have been no Rights of Way Act 1932, no National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, no Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Part 3), and probably no ‘right to roam’ in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Similarly the statutory provisions to tackle obstructions and unauthorised ploughing would not have come about.
The ‘modern era’ of rights of way work in both the voluntary and government sectors started in the run-up to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it 35 years old, and the people who were there at the beginning, or soon after, are 35 years older than they were.
The way people live and work now is rather different from how it was 35 years ago. There are so many more competing demands for time, and the internet has radically changed how people find information, interact with each other, and convey their views to government.
But, even so, there remains an ongoing need for technical and policy expertise within the voluntary sector, organised in a way that can deal directly with government and its agencies. New legislation does not just appear. It must be grown. It has to be sown, fed, tended and ultimately turned into a ‘product’, and this takes time, knowledge, energy and some money.
Simply, the Trust needs to widen its panel of trustees and volunteers in order to remain effective and, ultimately to survive. Neither role is onerous, but does require engagement for a reasonable period, with a willingness to learn about rights of way issues to a depth beyond that of someone who just rides or walks.
If you would like to know more please contact the Trustees by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Give your name and contact details and one of the Trustees will get back to you.