By now, I’m sure most Ride Sheffield members have noticed that Derbyshire County Council, (DCC), has produced a report detailing the fall out from the Rushup Edge protest. If you’ve failed to read much beyond the first page, I fully sympathise for it is not, as they say, a right riveting read.
However, as a member of the Ride Sheffield awkward squad, I thought it was my responsibility to go where others fear to tread.
Let’s begin with the good bits, it shouldn’t take too long. There is a welcome admission that DCC failed to consult the two bodies most intimately involved in Peak District rights of way and recreation, namely the Peak District Local Access Forum and, unforgivably, the Peak District National Park Authority. There is also an undertaking to better consult in the future.
Sadly, these nuggets of hope are overwhelmed by the sheer negativity of this report. The depressing thing is that I’m not surprised by the conclusions DCC have drawn from this exercise – we’ve been here before, notably on Stanage Causeway and Wigley Lane. Effectively, they are saying they know best and intend to finish sanitising Rushup Edge. Add to that the implication that all the biking community has managed to do is delay the inevitable in a way that has cost money and achieved nothing and it is hard not to feel aggrieved that our genuine efforts to encourage a compromise solution have been treated with something bordering on contempt.
Most galling of all, there is a clear assertion in the report that only mountain bikers were opposed to the work which neatly ignores the reservations of, amongst others, Friends of the Peak District (CPRE), National Trust, BMC, County Councillor Jocelyn Street, Chapel-on-le-Frith Parish Council, PDNPA, Dark Peak Bridleways Association, Charlotte Gilbert of Peak HorsePower and many others, including ramblers.
There’s no point in revisiting the arguments we used in our attempt to persuade DCC that there is a better way of looking after our byways. It’s obvious to all right-thinking Peak enthusiasts that this is no way to treat a national park, that creating trails that wouldn’t look out of place in an urban park is simply not good enough in remote landscapes.
Fortunately, Ride Sheffield volunteers aren’t downhearted as a result of this Whitewash. We’re lucky enough to work with organisations that understand that working constructively with all user groups is the best way to manage this exceptional landscape. Working with the likes of the Eastern Moors Partnership, the Sheffield Wildlife Trust and the Sheffield Rights of Way Team, we’ve demonstrated time and again that recreational user groups can be constructive and willing partners. One day DCC will have to wake up to that fact.
Peak District MTB continue to fight this decision. Ride Sheffield will support them in any way we can….