Ride in the Corridors of Power

The push for increased access at governmental level has stalled.

No matter which way you look at it, cutting through the rhetoric and bluster, there is zero definitive action to improve access for riders here in England. The Scottish model has proven a huge success, bar isolated incidents. Trails for Wales has come so close to something similar and the arguments are still bubbling along. But in the UK the debate bounces around government like a fly around the rear end of a cow, batted away when it gets too close.

Julian Glover’s report is still the pinnacle of the access argument for England. Mountain biking access prominently featured, and the ‘Glover Report’ (Landscapes review: National Parks and AONBs) offered those of us on two wheels tantalising promise of what could be: subsidies for environmentally protective, access increasing actions dangling a carrot to groups like Peak District MTB to keep on fighting the fight. But, similar to our work with local landowners, we get close then fall back down again.
Until now?

We don’t like to talk politics here at Peak District MTB. But sometimes we have to put on our big boy pants and grasp the nettle in a bizarre mix of metaphors about tough subjects. Jim McMahon, the Shadow Environment Secretary has committed Labour to pass a right to roam act and reverse the Dartmoor ban on wild camping. In his pledge (and yes, that is a weighted word, I know).

He said: “What I am interested in is the right to experience, the right to enjoy and the right to explore,” meaning that people should be allowed to fully enjoy an area, including taking part in activities such as swimming, camping, climbing and birdwatching rather than simply walking.

(Though we can easily clarify that climbing and birdwatching are already explicitly permitted. This publication does fact-check what it reports.)

Something notably absent from the commentary on the Shadow Minister’s comments was bike access. We’ve no reason to think that’s intentional of course, but now it’s up to us to make sure it’s not overlooked. Our Project 22% Campaign may not be going as fast as we hoped, but we’ve still got to push where we can. So with a general election, and predictions of a change in government, due within the next 2 years, and with those waiting in the wings talking increased access, we need to make our voices heard.

So now it’s up to you. You need to get biking on that bill. In the coming days (with your help), we’ll collate a contact list of MPs and prospective members who may have the power and influence to represent our views. But, talking politics again, democracy only works if there’s will to change things and the people speak up. We have 9000 followers on PDMTB. You all know 3, 4, 5 riders who aren’t members. Get them ALL to contact their MP or candidate and get MTB access on that bill.

Below is a list of current MPs and prospective candidates. We’ll keep adding more so please let us know who we should speak to here.

Current representatives:

Debbie Abrams LAB Oldham East and Saddleworth debbie.abrahams.mp@parliament.uk
Olivia Blake LAB Sheffield Hallam olivia.blake.mp@parliament.uk
Karen Bradley CON Staffordshire Moorlands karen.bradley.mp@parliament.uk
Miriam Cates CON Penistone & Stocksbridge miriam.cates.mp@parliament.uk
Sarah Dines CON MP Derbyshire Dales sarah.dines.mp@parliament.uk
Robert Largan CON High Peak mail@robertlargan.co.uk
Jason McCartney CON Colne Valley jason.mccartney.mp@parliament.uk.
Lee Rowley CON North East Derbyshire lee.rowley.mp@parliament.uk
David Ruttley CON Macclesfield david.rutley.mp@parliament.uk

12 February 2023