Last edited by dougdew99; 12th-April-2011 at 05:00 PM. Reason: new link
We need your action! This forum represents a tremendous asset within the UK paddling community but it only has any real value in the Access campaign if we can mobilise that resource effectively.
The Sports & Recreation Alliance wants to promote access to inland waterways and change DEFRA's response to access issues via their 'Red Card to Red Tape' campaign. They need our help because we have great coverage of England and Wales and probably have a member in every MP's constituency.
The "Red Card to Red Tape" campaign recommends:
“DEFRA should introduce a statutory right
of access in England and Wales for unpowered craft to
inland water for recreational purposes.
This system of rights and responsibilities should be
based on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.”
We have been asked by both the Sports & Recreation Alliance and the BCU to help them in the next stage of the campaign by writing to our MPs.
You can read about the campaign on this website, see page 200 of their report.
Sports & Rec asked us to do this:
“When approaching an MP it is necessary to offer them something practical to do, something which they can make a difference. We have two suggestions:
1) Our review is with DCMS who are considering which recommendations to prioritise - Ask your MP to write to the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson to highlight the access recommendation as important to their constituents.
2) Caroline Spelman (DEFRA Secretary of State) shows little sympathy for access issues and will not meet with us to discuss them - Ask your MP to write to Caroline Spelman to ask her to meet with the Sport and Recreation Alliance to discuss issues on improving access to inland water as recommended in 'Red Card to Red Tape'”.
The bottom line is that if we want the Ministry of Sport to join the access campaign we should do our bit by writing to our MPs. If we do not make our voice heard, who will?
What Should I Say in My Letter?
1. It is far better that you write your letter in your own words.
2. You should draw your MP’s attention to the “Red Card to Red Tape” campaign
3. Explain how this affects a river in the MP’s constituency
4. Explain the more general benefits of access
5. Ask the MP to act on your behalf, as requested by Sports & Recreation Alliance, see above.
How do I find my MP and write to him or her?
1. You can find your MP and see their address and background on this website,
2. You can write by hand or by email; be sure to include your name and address, otherwise you may be ignored.
3. This website enables you to easily send an email. You enter your postcode, it inserts your MP's name and address and takes you through the
What should I do after I’ve written?
1. Post on SOTP to let us know you have written. We want every MP to receive several letters. Five is the magic number which makes them realise something is up...
2. When you get a reply, post it on SOTP. We are keeping a database of responses to identify who is for and against.
3. If you don’t get a reply after two weeks, follow them up by letter, phone and visit.
Do you have a sample letter?
Here is an example which you can change into your own words:
" Dear Mr MP,
The Sport and Recreation Alliance recently launched its review of regulatory burdens on sports clubs, entitled “Red Card to Red Tape”, commissioned by DCMS. The review recommends that DEFRA introduce a statutory right of access to rivers in England and Wales for canoes and kayaks. You can read about this report here: http://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/redcard.
This affects me directly because I live less than one mile from the River Mole, a beautiful Surrey river, yet I am unable to enjoy it as a canoeist without fear of being taken to court for trespass. In Scotland and nearly every other country in the world I would be able to share this natural resource with other river users in a responsible and environmentally sound way.
Canoeing and Kayaking is enjoyed by more than 1,000,000 people, providing a healthy outdoor activity for young people, families and older people. We have 41,000 miles of rivers suitable for canoeing, but only 2% - 4% of our rivers are available to us. I hope you see the benefits of providing a general right of recreational access to rivers within a sustainable and responsible framework such as works so well in Scotland. This would be a very positive step, providing benefits to all who enjoy the countryside.
I ask you to support this campaign to give access to the River Mole and other rivers. I am happy to provide you with further information, and would be happy to take you for a paddle on the Mole in the limited area where access is available.
Will you please:
1. Advise me of your position on this issue,
2. Write to the Minister for Sport, Hugh Robertson to highlight this access recommendation as important to your constituents,
3. Write to the DEFRA Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman to ask her to meet with the Sport and Recreation Alliance to discuss issues on improving access to
inland water as recommended in 'Red Card to Red Tape'.
Last edited by dougdew99; 12th-April-2011 at 04:55 PM.
38 Degrees is a community based organisation which takes up causes suggested by its members and tries to bring about the changes its members want.
Recently it was instrumental in getting the Government to stop its plans to sell off the Forests, stopping the creation a mega-dairy factory farm in Lincolnshire and getting Donald Trump to cease trying to evict people who lived near his golf course.
Richard Openshaw, (anyone know him?), suggested that 38 degrees take up a campaign to provide access in England similar to Scotland. This was spotted by some of our members (Bob? Keith?) in early March. Since then we have pushed it from being the 300th most favoured campaign idea to its current position, 13th!
We hope that if we keep pushing, 38 Degrees will take it up.
You can vote here
Voting is a little tricky... make sure you have voted, not just left a comment...
David, Chas and Andy have voted. Stuart and Wayne haven't.
Last edited by dougdew99; 15th-May-2011 at 06:41 AM.
"The general public seems to have no idea that access to rivers for canoeing, swimming, paddling and picnicking is denied by landowners and anglers."
Hopefully that will include a lot more people.
Keep up the good work BTW. We appreciate your efforts!
"What's so special about the cheesemakers?"
I just got my second letter from Sam Gyimah.
He enclosed a reply to his letter to Robin Davis, Parks and Countryside Manager, Reigate & Banstead Council.
Robin wrote that the council owns a small section of the Mole river bank. His reply was based on his assumption that riparian owners have the right to give permission or not, to canoeists, thus indicating that while the coucil could give permission for their bit of the river bank, this would be of little use without the co-operation of other riparian owners. He recommended contact with British Waterways who he presumed were ultimately responsible for authorising boating use of the Mole.
Sam suggested that it might be best for me to follow up with British Waterways, but if I needed any further help, to let him know.
I feel that Sam has responded to my enquiry in a reasonable way. Certainly he now knows more than he did before I wrote to him. Before I wrote he didn't know that the canoeist access problem existed. Now he does.
I am going to write to both Sam and Robin explaining that Robin's assumption of riparian rights is incorrect and pointing out the solution is adoption of the same rights as in Scotland. I will also write to British Waterways telling them that my MP recommended me to do so, with a copy to Sam, and see what their response is.
A tiny step, hopefully forward... I would appreciate some advice as to the best way to respond... should I refer to the CROW act and the late withdrawal of water access?
Last edited by dougdew99; 11th-March-2011 at 11:25 AM.
Get voting guys... here
Dear Mr Dew,
Thank you for your email.
I have researched into whether any European Directives give access to
inland waterways for canoeists.
Unfortunately I could not find any corresponding legislation and so I
suspect it is a national competency. I would recommend contacting DEFRA
who should be able to clarify the legal status of such waterways.
You can write to them at:
17 Smith Square
Or you can telephone their helpline: 08459 33 55 77
Thank you once again for your email.
Constituency Office Manager
Office of Sharon Bowles MEP, Liberal Democrat
Chair of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee
Member of the European Parliament for South East England
Please vote here
We have a troll, Merfyn Cymro, don't respond to his desire for attention.
Dealing with Trolls 101 - don't respond; they crave your attention, use the energy to persuade interested people to vote, tell your own story here of why this campaign is important to you...
Please Vote (don't just comment).
8th Now but we need more people to vote. Considering SOPT UKRGB, Swimmers groups, mountain groups and others have all been contacted about the campaign 461 voters looks very pitiful so please vote if you have not and get the message out there to clubs, Unis etc and ask them to vote.
I received a note from the BCU saying that our campaign to write to MPs has resulted in more requests from MP's researchers to the BCU for information about access.
For the twenty or so people who have written to their MPs, thanks...
For the 7,920 SOTPers who haven't written yet, now is your chance to make a difference...
Apathy is a terrible thing but it is true, look at home many paddlers are on UKRGB, SOTP, Swimmers forums etc as well and how many have voted in the campaign or written to MP's.
Everyone likes to moan but until they get up and do something we will always be disregarded.
The 7,920 SOTPers aren't necessarily apathetic... we all have many priorities in our lives, but now is a good time to give this cause 15 minutes worth of priority. My letter to my MP was my second letter to an MP ever... it is fun too... you get a response on beautiful House of Commons note paper and you feel good by helping the cause. Next thing you know you'll be storming the barricades...
Writing to your MP makes a difference. You are educating him or her and letting him or her know what you want.
We need some more positive comments on 38 Degrees. The comment thread is being highjacked by an irrelevant discussion by anglers about spawning. Please add positive comments about the real issues... don't enter into the angling discussions... we are being trolled by experts
Post your MP's responses here....
It is a good idea to post an extract of MP responses on 38 degrees e.g.
We are getting good response from MPs; here is how my MP responded...
"Thank you for your letter about canoeing and access agreements. I will write to the Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to seek a resolution. I will let you know when I have received the response." Write to your MP here http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/spe...ontact-your-MP
Tell him or her about the situation on your local river. Include this sentence:
Please advise me of your position on this issue and communicate my concerns to Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Natural Environment and Fisheries), Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, Hugh Robertsson, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Sport and the Olympics) and Sir Peter Bottomley MP"
This demonstrates to 38 Degrees that we are pro-active campaigners worthy of their support
Last edited by dougdew99; 18th-March-2011 at 01:27 PM.
This is what it says in writetothem.com
"What should I do if my MP (or other representative) doesn't reply?
There are lots of things you can do to follow up your enquiry if you get no reply, or an unsatisfactory reply, from your representative.
See your MP or other representative in person, raise your issue with them at their local "surgery". Call your MP's local constituency office or your representative's party office to arrange this. You can find the number in your local phone book, or on your MP's website.
Make sure you have taken all other courses of action to raise your issue, or to get your problem solved. For example, contact the relevant central Government department, and relevant officers at your local councils. Ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau for advice.
Write a letter to your local newspaper about your issue, and your dissatisfaction with your MP, MEP or councillor.
Write a letter to your other representatives, such as your MP, your local councillors, MEPs or regional representatives, if appropriate. You can do this for free using WriteToThem.
Complain about your representative to their local party. Contact the local party office. The local party has the power not to select your MP as a candidate for the next General Election.
Use PledgeBank (made by the same charity that makes WriteToThem) to gather a group of people with the same issue as you, and solve the problem together."
Last edited by KeithD; 19th-March-2011 at 07:40 AM. Reason: add links
Last edited by dougdew99; 23rd-March-2011 at 01:43 PM.
I voted, and I'm a Scottish person
Good luck with this!!
Sounds like a good idea, is the 38 degrees vote thing still open? I get a "problem loading page" message when using any of the links to it...?
Try this link
It turned out to be a computer problem my end (as is often the case, lol.)
Cheers for the help.
Just votes on 38Degrees - if you haven't, you should!
Filled in the BCU reform survey, copied the MP's letter to email later, already "rocking the boat" on 38 deg & paddling wherever I see fit!
I have to say though, that rarely have I met anyone on the water who has been anything but friendly!
For those few that haven't been so accomodating, I'm always polite and respond with facts. Until they "cross the line" & then......
I lift my ugly, battle-scarred 90kg bulk out of my boat & continue the conversation on the bank!
Usually calms down after that!
Happy Paddling to everybody!
Just an off the wall idea, If we are being prevented from accessing waters that we believe we have an ancient right to use, could we not use the European Court For Human Rights to resolve it?
I always thought we would have recourse to a European court, but I have since learned from this forum that
it is not in their remit !
I do not have the reference, but it was asked as a question in the European Parliament, and the grounds for rejection
were set out, I may be posted again... I was surprised..