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Thread: Writing to Your MP

  1. #61

    Default A second letter from Sam Gyimah MP

    "Dear Mr and Mrs Dew
    I see this is a household passionate about the lack of access to English Rivers for recreational activities. I would first like to thank you for your most recent correspondence about your concerns about canoeing, and Mr Dew, hopefully by now, you should have also received my letter about the NHS.

    In the light of both your representations to me, I have written to Hugh Robertson, Minister for Sport and the Olympics at the Department for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport on your behalf to look into your concerns. i have also written, as requested to the Rt Hon Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on your behalf.

    When I get a response I will be back in touch.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sam Gyimah, MP"


    Sam holds the safest Conservative seat in the country. His responsiveness is admirable
    Last edited by dougdew99; 10th-May-2011 at 01:28 PM.
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father


  2. #62

    Default

    Another Email from my mep

    Our Ref: FH/JF
    10 May 2011
    Dear Lord Helcoop
    Thank you for your email regarding public access to inland waterways. I appreciate your concern that inland waterways were not included in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and I would like to see this issue addressed so that canoeists can have access to rivers in England and Wales.
    In light of your comments I have written to Richard Benyon at Defra to ask what the government is doing to clarify public rights of way with regard to rivers. I will be in touch again when I receive a reply from the Minister.
    Yours sincerely
    Fiona Hall MEP



    The more letters he gets from both M.Ps and M.E.P.s the better
    still a few more to write to them... Then starting on the House of Lords to see what response
    we will get from them.

  3. #63
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    Default Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle)

    Apologies for long post...

    I sent an email to Sir Peter Tapsell MP last year about access. He never replied. I also emailed about another couple of issues and he never replied.

    I personally feel that sending a template email will not be welcomed by many MPs because if you can't be bothered to write it yourself, why should they bother to read it themselves. I also feel that MPs probably get so many template emails that they can smell them a mile off and may also think I'm already aware of this and therefore effectively ignore it.

    I also feel it highly likely that many MPs will not be totally up to date with emails and probably can't organise them and sort out the spam from genuine emails. Many of them were brought up traditionally and probably hold great faith in the good old letter, written letter that is. They are busy people and their whole way of life is probably more adapt at dealing with paperwork rather than technology.

    I think a written letter posted to them at Westminster is better not only because of the above but also because on the www.parliament.uk website (link at top of thread) it states:-

    "By letter When writing to any MP the address to use is: House of Commons London SW1A 0AA. A letter allows you to explain yourself more clearly and in detail and the MP will have a record of your problem."


    ...and the MP will have a record...again they are geared up to handle letters.


    The webpage also goes on to state:-
    "Bulk mailshots for the House of Commons are not accepted."


    ....what is a bulk mailshot in their opinion....loads of template emails perhaps?


    I feel that when trying to get their attention you have to abide by their rules and do things in a way that they can cope with. Email is easy but useless if the MP can't handle it physically or even mentally...remember some MPs are not of the electronic generation. Does any MP ask "please email as I prefer it to letter"? We all know what Spam is like, its annoying...if an MP gets annoyed with email he is less likely to whole heartedly adopt it into his daily routine.



    Sam posted above something to the effect of "8,000 members and only 34 MPs contacted...pathetic" - I'm not quoting exactly here but I feel more MPs have been contacted but many members don't get around to all threads and probably havent got to this thread yet. Plus political things only ever attract a very small minority of people and if you ask them to do something remotely political then even fewer take part....it's like real world politics....local councillors etc ask people to vote for them but they all know that knocking on doors and visiting people in shopping centres is key to success as you have to really work hard to get people to act on political issues.


    Many canoeists are perfectly happy with the way things are not because they disagree with there being better access but because they haven't tried going further afield and they don't see the problem. It mainly effects people who are principled (think there should be access even if they don't use that access) and people who are directly effected (tried to get to a piece of water and couldnt or have had a bank side argument). This cuts down the 8,000 members to a very small amount who will ever want to physically campaign so dont be disheartened by only small numbers actively writing to MPs.


    The office of an MP is a long standing traditional model, I think the method used to contact and persuade them should also be using traditional methods, email by all means, but make sure you write a letter with a signature, and then follow up with a meeting at his or her surgery. Always make sure that you address the MP correctly...traditional people like traditions and if they have been knighted then call them Sir.....In the letter you refer to other documents, take a copy of these documents to the MP when you see him....I believe this will help. Leave him with a small bundle to read on his way home. Highlight sections in documents to simplify his job and generally make his life easier. Hand the info to him on a plate so although he has a whole document to read which he is unlikely to, highlight just the odd page or conclusion of that document.



    You may add Sir Peter Tapsell to your list of MPs contacted (but I only emailed him before). I will now write to him and IF I still have enthusiasm for the subject in a week or two will endeavour to visit him at his surgery.


    End of very long post - apologies for the length

  4. #64
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    Anyone had a reply from Mrs E Adams?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13364121

    MP says letter from No 10 used false name and signature


    Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman has accused Downing Street of writing to him using a false name and a false signature.
    Sir Gerald said he received a reply to a letter sent to the Prime Minister's office signed by a "Mrs E Adams".
    But when he called Downing Street to speak to Mrs Adams, he said he was told she did not exist but was a "computer generated name".
    Previous PMs always replied to his letters personally, Sir Gerald added.
    Raising a point of order in the Commons, the veteran MP said he had written to No 10 on behalf of a constituent in his Manchester Gorton region.
    Extraordinary events He told MPs he had received a reply from 10 Downing Street signed "Mrs E Adams, direct communications unit", saying the letter had been "diverted" to the Treasury for a response from a suitable minister.
    He continued: "I therefore telephoned Mrs Adams to ask why that diversion had taken place.
    "I was, first of all, put on to somebody in the correspondence unit who told me that Mrs Adams did not speak on the telephone. I then said that since she had written to me I assumed that she was capable of speaking to me on the telephone.
    "I was then put on to somebody who described themselves as head of the correspondence unit who said that Mrs Adams did not exist but was a computer generated name - and presumably also a computer-generated bogus signature as well."
    He added: "What extraordinary events are taking place in 10 Downing Street whereby they send letters from somebody who doesn't exist and expect one to accept this?"
    In response, Commons Speaker John Bercow said it seemed "peculiarly unfortunate" that the MP's query had been dealt with in this way.
    "I do think it is of the utmost importance that members should be treated with courtesy by the department or agency to which they write," he said.

  5. #65
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    Written to my MP: Fabian Hamilton, Labour, Leeds North East
    Will let you know the response.

  6. #66

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    I have emailed my MP three times. He is a Conservative MP in the safest Tory seat in the country. In each case I have received a letter signed by him personally and addressing the issues I raised directly. He has written to Ministers as I asked.

    I guess there are some MPs who respond to email and some who don't. If he or she doesn't reply to your email, write a letter and post it.

    40 letters out of the thousands of SOTP members does not constitute a campaign of template letters by any stretch of the imagination...

    I am very happy with the responses from my MP... when he replied to my first letter he was in total ignorance of the issue, now he knows about it and he knows that two people in his electorate, Mary and I, are concerned enough to write to him. My letters have educated him and therefore had exactly the effect I wanted.

    The last thing anyone here should worry about is whether their letter is a 'template' or not. It takes less than five minutes to email your MP. Just do it.
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father


  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by dougdew99 View Post
    I have emailed my MP three times. He is a Conservative MP in the safest Tory seat in the country. In each case I have received a letter signed by him personally and addressing the issues I raised directly. He has written to Ministers as I asked.

    I guess there are some MPs who respond to email and some who don't. If he or she doesn't reply to your email, write a letter and post it.

    40 letters out of the thousands of SOTP members does not constitute a campaign of template letters by any stretch of the imagination...

    I am very happy with the responses from my MP... when he replied to my first letter he was in total ignorance of the issue, now he knows about it and he knows that two people in his electorate, Mary and I, are concerned enough to write to him. My letters have educated him and therefore had exactly the effect I wanted.

    The last thing anyone here should worry about is whether their letter is a 'template' or not. It takes less than five minutes to email your MP. Just do it.
    You've obviously had a good experience with an MP which is excellent and you're right, email first as it is so easy then write if that fails. I think the poorly made point I was making was more that if emails fail, template or not, don't give up consider who they are and try the traditional approach but your point is a good one, "just do it"
    --
    Andy

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    I had a reply from NicK Gibb Schools Minister. MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton. Another very safe Tory seat. He has written to the minister on my behalf and I am awaiting a response. I was careful to personalise my email to show that the lack of access was effecting me and the rural economy.
    On the few occasions I have needed to contact my MP he has always replied promptly and personally signed the letters. Can't say I always like the reply but that's life.

    I will be writing to my MEP next.

    Bushcraft Survival and First Aid Training.

  9. #69
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    Default 3rd letter



    Dear James Paice

    I am disappointed not to have had a reply to my email of 18/04/11, regarding navigation and access rights to rivers.

    However, since that time, I have been pleased to see that Caroline Spelman (in her ‘Supporting the environment – 12 months on’ statement) has recognized that indeed there is a problem, and, with financial investment intends to tackle it and associated problems:

    “And we’re investing £110m to clean up England’s rivers, tackling problems that have been sitting in the too-hard basket for too long. We’ll be working with local groups to turn our waterways into healthy wildlife habitats, sort out problems regarding ownership, access, and upkeep, and address sources of pollution.
    The government can be most effective when it sets the right regulatory framework and policy direction. Our Natural Environment White Paper will show how we will improve our environment for future generations, changing how we value our green spaces and getting more people involved so that we can all enjoy the benefits nature brings. “



    The meaning I read from this is that DEFRA are finally admitting that the previous policy of voluntary access agreements does not work, and so accepts it needs to set a regulatory framework which will allow access to rivers to be much more straight forward. What her statement doesn’t tell us is who these local groups are, and how if possible, people like me, with an interest, can become part of them. Are you able to shed any light on this?

    Now that defra seem to want to change the access situation, can I also remind you ofRed Card to Red Tape – How sports clubs want to break free from bureaucracy, a report into the regulatory burden on sport and recreation clubs. The Review was commission by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, and will feed into the Government’s wider review of regulation being conducted by the Cabinet Office.
    http://www.sportandrecreation.org.uk/sites/default/files/web/documents/pdf/Sport%20and%20Recreation%20Alliance-%20Red%20Card%20to%20Red%20Tape%20%28Summary%20rep ort%2C%20low%20res%29.pdf (and highlight to you page 34, referring to recommendations for river access)
    I hope you will give your support to this report.

    Yours sincerely

    I wait with baited breath!
    Sam

  10. #70
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    Default Sir Peter Tapsell MP

    I received a reply to my letter (not email) today. In it he said he only just got it (19th of May, was sent 11th May) and he explained he was about to go abroad so was "replying in haste".

    His "short answer was": I am very keen on rambling and organised disciplined walking access rights.

    He goes on to say " I have forwarded your interesting letter to the responsible Minister, asking that very careful and sympathetic consideration should be given to what you say and for a statement of government policy on the matters you raise. As soon as I receive the Minister's reply I shall sent it to you."

    I re-read my letter to him to check I didnt mention "walking" and I didnt so either he is linking the access issue that he has with walking to the same thing as canoeing or that he didn't read the letter properly and just read "access rights" and presumed walking....I would have thought he was comparing the two issues.

    If he was comparing the two issues then it would appear he is generally in favour of access rights.

    In the letter I asked for his "position" and where he stands and also asked if he would vote where ever needed in favour and also promote the cause, so the fact that he has passed on the letter as requested with the comment "careful considered sympathetic consideration" would suggest he is in support.

    This is the first response from him and given that the 3 previous times I emailed and this time I wrote a letter I presume he can deal with letters better than emails.
    --
    Andy

  11. #71
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    Let me know if I've missed anyone.
    Just emailed Louise Bagshaw - Conservative Corby
    Up a lazy river by the old mill run..the lazy, lazy river in the noon day sun

  12. #72

    Default Dunnit

    Just sent off email to Jacob Rees-Mogg, conservative, North East Somerset. Would like to thank everyone whose letters I plagiarised - just hope I got the facts right.
    Being who he is, I don't expect a reply from him.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mole View Post
    Being who he is, I don't expect a reply from him.
    He works for you!! Don't let him off so easily!!
    Keith

  14. #74

    Default My MP

    He's nuts. Brought his nanny on campaign and still won the election. There's really no hope!

  15. #75
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    Default A Letter From The House

    The postman has just left a reply from my MP Stephen Williams,Bristol West.

    Access to Rivers for Canoeists 7 June 2011

    "Thank you for your correspondence regarding the above. Upon receiving it, I wrote to the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs to convey your concerns. The reply received comes from Richard Benyon MP,Minister for Natural Environment and Fisheries, and I have enclosed a copy of his reply for your reference.

    As you will read, the Minister states that his Department can assist canoeists by negotiating access agreements with landowners that would open access to waterways. He explains that these agreements would address issues that are specific to each area, including various parties competing for use, impact on ecology and health and safety concerns. Mr Benyon highlights that voluntary agreements are popular with landowners but, as the the governing bodies of canoeing in England and Wales do not endorse such measures , do not pursue these agreements.

    I hope this reply is useful to you. Rest assured that I will continue to lobby my Coalition colleagues to ensure that agreements can be made between landowners and the canoeing community. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further comments or questions. Yours sincerely, best wishes, Stephen Williams MP."

    Mr William wrote to DEFRA on the 28th March, they replied on 7th April, as Mr Williams says, their reply hinges on agreements, that "99% of 400 landowners contacted said they were willing to consider voluntary agreements",but our side will not play ball.

    The song remains the same,

    I will write back to Mr Williams, explaining why voluntary agreement have not worked for the past 100 years, also that I am not a member of a Canoe club, like many others I paddle solo, or tandem, I do not enjoy going out mob handed, except as a protest !

  16. #76
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    Just emailed Louise Bagshaw - Conservative Corby
    Good luck with that one. From what I've seen of her on Question Time her reply might consist of a swift kick to the nuts!

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    Default I got a reply from my MP

    My reply took a while, but it did come, the original letter contents is here

    I will post the letter contents shortly, my excited daughter had to read the 'house of commons' letter out for me over the phone as I'm away

    Interesting bit, I offered to take the MP out in my canoe and she has accepted.

    I fully expect it will be a struggle to find a date/time when she is free, and it may never come off. But this could be an excellent opportunity for more SoTP paddlers to get in on the photos - what do people think?

    I personally don't want to 'overtake' the MP coming out in the canoe into a publicity stunt (without the MP agreeing) - but it would be useful for more articulate and knowledgeable people on the access debate to help me out on the day

    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrism4444 View Post
    My reply took a while, but it did come, the original letter contents is here

    I fully expect it will be a struggle to find a date/time when she is free, and it may never come off. But this could be an excellent opportunity for more SoTP paddlers to get in on the photos - what do people think?

    I personally don't want to 'overtake' the MP coming out in the canoe into a publicity stunt (without the MP agreeing) - but it would be useful for more articulate and knowledgeable people on the access debate to help me out on the day

    Chris
    I am not sure if I meet your requirements but if I am free on the date in question I would be happy to tag along.

    Bushcraft Survival and First Aid Training.

  19. #79
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    Default reply at last

    I've finally got a reply to my letter of 18th April! (post 33 on this thread) but still wait for a reply to its follow up (post 69)
    The letter is obviously a DEFRA response and not at all personal but it does bring up some different angles and arguements which we will have to get through.

    Unfortunately, I don't know how to get the letter on here for you to see - so someone with more brains than me (should be plenty of you) please tell me how to get a scanned letter, now in PDF to paste on to here
    Sam

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    Quote Originally Posted by samB View Post
    I've finally got a reply to my letter of 18th April! (post 33 on this thread) but still wait for a reply to its follow up (post 69)
    The letter is obviously a DEFRA response and not at all personal but it does bring up some different angles and arguements which we will have to get through.

    Unfortunately, I don't know how to get the letter on here for you to see - so someone with more brains than me (should be plenty of you) please tell me how to get a scanned letter, now in PDF to paste on to here
    Sam
    Either you upload it somewhere like a picture and link to it or perhaps you can "select all" text from the PDF and copy and paste to a post....Either that or perhaps you can open it with something like OpenOffice and export to a different format....or perhaps email it to Doug (? sure he'll answer) and let him deal with it perhaps?
    --
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    Quote Originally Posted by samB View Post
    I've finally got a reply to my letter of 18th April! (post 33 on this thread) but still wait for a reply to its follow up (post 69)
    The letter is obviously a DEFRA response and not at all personal but it does bring up some different angles and arguements which we will have to get through.

    Unfortunately, I don't know how to get the letter on here for you to see - so someone with more brains than me (should be plenty of you) please tell me how to get a scanned letter, now in PDF to paste on to here
    Sam
    ...in fact, after re-reading your post I guess you scanned the letter to pdf....you can re scan into JPG (picture) format and then treat it as a picture
    --
    Andy

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    .......... but I scanned it at work and now I'm home .

    I'll shut my eyes and pretend its a photo and see if I can photo bucket it ......later!
    Sam

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    Default Letter from Richard Benyon MP

    I received a letter forwarded by my MP from Richard Benyon MP stating in quite a bit of detail the government position. Was impressed as it was 2 pages and explained a fair few points and reasononing behind the position. It explains why they will not go with the Land Refom Act 2003 for Scotland. It highlights health and safety reasons also. Very thorough letter....I'll try and scan it in tomorrow and post.

    [edit]
    I have just seen that someone else has started a new thread....they received a very similar letter
    http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...Richard-Benyon
    Last edited by andylincs; 2nd-July-2011 at 10:20 PM.
    --
    Andy

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    Default an answer to the standard defra letter

    Dear James Paice



    Thank you for your letter dated 17th June. I am disappointed that you have chosen to use a number of standard Defra statements rather than a personal letter, and that you have not yet replied to the points I raised in my email of 16 May.



    I have to say I am not impressed by these statements. They take little or no account of what canoeists or many other water users want. Perhaps I need to clarify: I want the right to pass along rivers quietly, causing no fuss, no damage, and no pollution. I don’t want to cross private land and I don’t want to upset or be upset by other river users.



    As to the defra statements, firstly, I would suggest that the fact that a quarter of the major river and canal network are available to canoeists is of little use to a large proportion of paddlers (are you sure that these aren’t UK figures rather than those for just England and Wales?). It means that three quarters of the network isn’t available, and the canal network is flat water and the majority of the rivers with undisputed access have little flow. Many experienced paddlers wish to paddle on moving water rather than still. Being within reach of urban areas is again of little concern. A car is usually necessary to transport a canoe and for most paddlers, the appeal of a new piece of water far outweighs the inconvenience of a couple of hours travel: - There are plenty of footpaths in our towns and cities – but people like to go to the hills and mountains to walk!



    I still wonder how responsible canoeing can impact adversely on existing users. - A code of practice for all river users to be responsible and respectful to other users would solve any problems (as in Scotland). Responsible canoeing has been proven to cause no harm to the environment. As for economic value, more people using an area will bring more money to it. The Scottish example shows that despite there being more paddlers, people still want to catch fish.

    Voluntary access agreements do not work. The EA admit that it is tremendously difficult just to trace the riparian owners let alone get them all to agree to access; sorry but the idea that an individual can arrange access is ridiculous. Even the Brighton report admitted that the resources needed to negotiate access agreements are huge and that tracing owners is difficult if not impossible at times. Why does the government support such an impractical scheme?

    I do agree that less experienced casual users like well signed clear trails and that is where the EA, who can promote use of their waters, could perhaps be more useful; on their easy, slow flowing rivers and canals - but what happens when the skill of these paddlers improve? Where will they paddle then?

    There is a tiny proportion of the population who regularly paddle, and even fewer who look for moving water, but are they crowding the waterways? How many canoeists do you come across in South East Cambridgeshire? (And there is a lot of accessible water here, but with very little flow.) There is estimated to be 68310 km of navigable water in England and Wales. 66000 km of these have no access. The rivers I can paddle are hardly busy – imagine how few paddlers you’d see if they were spread across the 68310km of navigable river. Is there any evidence to show what a terrible affect improved access to our waterways would have?



    The point about H&S management is red herring in this discussion. Yes, many manmade structures are dangerous, and should be avoided, but by allowing access to water, you do not encourage people to put themselves in danger. High weirs and surrounding walls are places where no responsible canoeist would go (and a sign would alert the less experienced to the danger). The irresponsible ones may go there whether access is allowed or not. Altering dangerous structures, where practical, should be encouraged in any case.



    The pilot access agreements may have improved signage and car parking facilities on four rivers somewhat, but car parks elsewhere do already exist. Responsible paddlers will not block roads or gates or park unsafely. If access were encouraged, land owners may well be tempted to offer the sort of services like car parks toilets and showers. Paddlers will pay for these sorts of things. As an example, look at the Tryweryn river in Wales. One of a few rivers with undisputed access in Wales; the car park at the top is very well used, as is the pay and display car park at the bottom of the river in Bala. I don’t know, but I would imagine that much of the tourist money in Bala comes from paddlers. What the pilot studies certainly didn’t improve is meaningful access to water or clarity of the law.



    I agree that the ecology of rivers should be protected but remind you once again that responsible canoeing is proven not to cause harm. If the river has enough water to float a canoe and depth to paddle, there will be no damage. If there is not enough water there will be no canoes!

    I accept that at present the red card report does not constitute government policy. What a shame. You could perhaps look at other European countries as models for access. Germany has open access to its rivers, while in France, the time of day dictates access; fish are most active in the morning and evening so access for canoes is limited to between 10am and 6pm – not a perfect solution but better than we have here.

    The CROW act was a promising start. The Natural England website states time and again how the government wants to ensure that everybody has the opportunity to use, understand, engage with, and be inspired by the natural environment - and also wants an increasing number of people to take action to conserve it. By excluding waterways from the act, a great opportunity has been missed. Most paddlers hate to see litter and will regularly pick up the waste others leave behind. Paddlers have a unique view of things from the water. They see much more than is visible from the bank and they leave no trace of their passing.



    I appreciate that you as a minister, are the government spokesman on agriculture and food and so should quote policy on those subjects, but I ask that you, as my Member of Parliament, look at this access problem from a constituents perspective rather than blindly following a policy, formulated by a previous government, which takes no account of a large number of people who would love to be able to use this countries rivers in a way which causes no negative impact if carried out responsibly. I hope you will take time to read this letter and think about these points. Perhaps you could look from a paddlers point of view and see what it would mean to have better access. Perhaps you could then look to the evidence of what the downsides are; what evidence is there that responsible access to the rivers in this country will cause problems? As you don’t seem to like the Scottish system, maybe you could seek evidence from other countries in Europe and see that in reality the problems don’t really exist.

    I wonder what response this will have?
    Sam

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    Good letter Sam. Well done!
    Keith

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    Quote Originally Posted by no1 photographer View Post
    No reply to date

    so another email, and letter is on it's way

    Andy
    Received a reply today.............just the standard defra response

    Andy

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    Recently I wrote a detailed response to the letter I received from Richard Benyon. I replied to my local MP, Harriett Baldwin, and requested that she passed on my reply to Mr Benyon and ask that he reply to the specific points that I raised. I received a letter from Harriett yesterday confirming that she has passed my response on, and that she has requested him to reply to my specific points.

    While i pasted a draft of my letter here, the one I finally sent was modified. So here is the final letter that I requested be passed onto Mr Benyon.

    Dear Harriett,
    I would like to extend my sincere thanks to you for pursuing my enquiry about access to our inland waterways and for obtaining and forwarding a response from the Minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

    If I may I would like to respond to a number of his statements, for which I would be grateful if a response to the specific points I raise in this letter may be obtained from him.

    While he does refer to the issue in detail it has come to light that his response is a fairly generic one, and does not address or answer many key concerns that the proponents of open access to waterways have with the policies that DEFRA are pursuing. In addition his statements show that DEFRA has simply not taken on board or understood the real needs and requirements of recreational water users, who include a far more diverse range of people than just canoeists and kayakers.

    With regard to his first point, the Minister states the following, “More than a quarter of our major river and canal network is available for canoeing, and 40%, 1,900km, of that available network is within 15km of an urban area, and, consequently, accessible to people.”

    From other very similarly worded public responses I have seen from DEFRA it appears that they may be taking those figures as UK wide, which would include Scotland. Consequently this would skew the figures somewhat since Scotland has an open access policy and is separate from the situation in England and Wales. Using man made canals in those figures is also misleading since they were built with the sole purpose of navigation and are not being campaigned for with regard to access.

    For the Minister to suggest that because the canal network is open for navigation that recreational water users should be satisfied is akin to telling the Ramblers that there are many free pavements to walk on in our towns and cities, and therefore access to the wild countryside is not needed. Or telling anglers that there are many artificial fishing lakes around the country so there should be no need to use the wild rivers. Of all the points that shows that DEFRA is failing to understand the issues or requirements of users, this one stands out quite considerably.

    The true figures, taken from the Government commissioned report by Brighton University/DEFRA “Water-Based Sport and Recreation - The Facts” published in 2001 are as follows:
    • There are 68,310 kilometres of rivers in England and Wales.
    • 2179 kilometres of these rivers have navigation rights.
    • There are over 66,000 kilometres of rivers with no access.
    • Less than 4% of the linear river resource in England and Wales has any public right of navigation.
    In addition to those figures it must also be taken into account that they are taken from what the Government considers to be navigable water of 3m or wider. Canoes and Kayaks can navigate much narrower waterways, and in the case of white water paddling those smaller streams and brooks often offer the most exciting and challenging water. So the true figure for navigable water is much greater, and the percentage available for use is consequentially much lower.

    Canals and modified canal style flat water rivers such as the River Severn below Stourport do not address the requirements of those who wish to pursue their pastime on wild rivers, with moving, often white water features.

    The Minister made an issue of the health and safety implications of open access on our waterways, citing man made structures such as weirs and other industrial relics. Such statements do not present any evidence that he has possession of that suggests that rivers and England have higher health and safety risks from such issues than other similar countries such as Germany, which have completely open access.

    The Minister also stated, “Surveys show that over one million people canoe or kayak each year. Many of these are less experienced, casual users who require easy rivers, and like well managed trails, with good information provision.”

    This statement may well be true, however it does not address the needs of those inexperienced boaters who will eventually want to develop their skills and move onto more challenging water. They may well like easy water to begin with, but once they acquire more skill, what then? White water boating has various grades, and it is impossible to teach such skills on flat water canals and rivers.

    At the core of DEFRAs policies regarding access to inland waterways is the idea that voluntary access agreements are the way forward. In taking such a line they have continuously failed to address the following issues with access agreements.
    Firstly, that voluntary access agreements have been tried for over 50 years without success. This, along with the ill defined legal situation regarding access are the reasons why Canoe Wales and the BCU do not endorse such schemes any longer. Access agreements have therefore been proven thoroughly over a very long period of time to be unworkable, and legally it is dubious as to whether they are even needed at all.

    In 1973 the Select Committee of the House of Lords on Sport and Leisure made the following statement, “The legal question of rights of way over water must be settled. A number of different legal interpretations of this right of way have been referred to in evidence and it is time for these to be resolved.”

    The muddy legal situation is the same now as it was then. Not only have voluntary access agreements been proven outright to be unworkable and impractical, including during the much hailed Brighton University study, but in addition they do not add any clarity to the legal position. Only serving to muddy the waters and to entrench a view that perhaps does not in fact have any real legal basis. Further, the Minister does not address how such access agreements are supposed to work.
    If we take a typical river, there may be a hundred or so different riparian owners and angling associations along a single stretch. The many issues with this include the following.
    1. The resources that are required in order to negotiate with such a large number of interested parties are huge. This was one of the conclusions of the Brighton University/DEFRA report that often gets swept under the carpet. Such resources are well beyond the scope of the individual and most organisations. The report, often held up by DEFRA as a shining example of how access agreements work in fact concluded that access agreements were very difficult to create and difficult to maintain. The result of the Brighton study, which the Minister seemingly supports, spent many hundreds of thousands of Pounds to gain only 70 kilometres of access, some of which already had agreements in place.
    2. The Minister does not address who the agreements will be between. For example the BCU represents less than half of canoeists and kayakers in England and Wales. If an access agreement is made with the BCU, who do not even represent many participants, will it be left to individuals to negotiate their own access? This still leaves the various wild swimmer organisations and individuals to negotiate their own separate access. The resources required for this are almost comical in scale, and yet DEFRA refuses to address these concerns in any shape or form. This is in spite of their own evidence and conclusions that suggests that access agreements are not practical precisely because of this.
    3. Much of the time the riparian owners cannot be traced, not even by the Land Registry. This issue alone can cause an entire access agreement to fall down. In fact the Minister’s own department website states the fact that identifying land owners can take years. Thus it would be interesting to know why he supports a policy that he knows to be completely impractical?
    4. If a single riparian land owner or angling association does not wish to negotiate or pulls out of negotiation a whole agreement can fall apart.
    5. If land changes hands then the access agreement must be negotiated all over again, at great expense.
    6. Often the resulting agreements give access only for a very limited period. For example in one case only allowing canoeing for a couple of hours on one single day of the year. This is clearly not a practical or acceptable compromise.
    7. The entire access agreement relies, literally, on the mood swings of the land owners and angling associations. It only takes one person to decide on a whim that they no longer wish to allow access and once again the whole agreement falls apart.
    Currently recreational users of inland water, which includes a far wider scope than simply canoeists and kayakers, only have open access to less than 4% of available water. Given the massive resources required for even simple access agreements that often finish up with huge restrictions, the impossible task of covering 66,000 more miles of our waterways with such schemes is plain to see. This shows very clearly why the line of policy that DEFRA are taking cannot be taken seriously. Especially when the study that DEFRA themselves supported concluded that access agreements were almost impossible to create and manage.

    The Brighton University study took two years at great expense, to negotiate around 70 kilometres of highly restrictive access. Much of their claimed successes included rivers that already had access agreements in place. The intervention of the study and renegotiation on some rivers in fact resulted in more restrictions being put in place. This not only shows how laboriously difficult access negotiation is, it also shows the shaky ground on which such agreements sit.

    The Minister goes on to refer to the difference in population density in Scotland as a further reason not to allow open access on English rivers. While Scotland sets a very good precedent it is not the only example of how open access can work. Germany for example has a very similar population density to England, and yet they have open access to their rivers without ill effect. Anglers and other recreational users have very good relationships. In fact the majority of other countries in the world have some form of open access on their rivers. This completely disproves DEFRAs reasoning on this issue.

    France is another good example that shows how a compromise can be made. In France canoeing and kayaking and other recreational use of rivers is allowed between 10am in the morning and 6pm in the evening. This works well because the best fishing is early in the morning and in the evening. While personally I think this is still restrictive, it does show how access can be managed in other ways in a clearly defined manner. It must be said that clarity is the key ingredient that is missing from the situation in England.

    In order to see the full extent of the problem I would like to point you towards a developing colour coded map that has been constructed to show the extent of situation. This map contains the option to turn off manmade canals, showing how extensive the issue is. The map can be viewed at www.canoedaysout.com/cgi-bin/grand_output.py

    I would like to add that if recreational water users directly followed the edicts of the riparian owners, angling associations, and the suggestion from the Minister that navigating down a disputed river constitutes trespass, virtually no canoeing and kayaking would take place in the UK at all. The pastime would effectively be banned in all but the rarest of locations. In fact white water kayaking would possibly disappear altogether, with the activity only being able to take place effectively on artificial courses.

    Referring to the BCU’s figures from 2001, the latest I have been able to obtain, it is estimated that in terms of fuel expenditure, rural accommodation among others, canoeists and kayakers contribute around £700 million per year to the UK economy. This figure can only have risen given that participation is on the increase, and is separate from the contribution paddlers make through BCU license fee purchases, and over 1.5 million paddlers who purchase licenses separately.

    It should also be noted that much of that expenditure will have been in connection with paddling rivers that, according to the Minister, are off limits. If we add in other recreational users such as wild swimmers, gorge walkers and other similar activities, this figure would rise further still.

    Yet, if the Minister’s advice was followed none of that money would be going into any of the rural economies at all, because there would be no reason for participants to visit any of the areas in question. So either he is suggesting that paddlers follow his edict, resulting in the situation I outlined above, or he is prepared to turn a blind eye to people using rivers that he thinks are legally off limits. In which case he should clearly see why clarification and/or legislation is needed.

    I cannot imagine that in the current economic climate the Minister is advocating taking the incomes I mention above out of the many rural economies that benefit from recreational water users. Yet, by following the rigid line of using access agreements he is advocating that very situation.

    The only reason Canoeing and Kayaking, as well as wild swimming have such a following with increasing numbers each year, is because the participants paddle and swim in disputed water regardless. They simply have no choice. Otherwise there would be nowhere to go to enjoy their pastime. This is another chink in the armour of the access agreement policy line that DEFRA is currently taking.

    Much is often made of the number of people who participate in angling in an attempt to sway the economic reasoning in their favour. However when the Royal Yachting Association carried out research in 2009 they found that the number of shore based anglers in the UK was estimated to be only around 855,934 participants. While for canoeing the figure was 1,262,478 and for outdoor swimming the figure was 4,998,774.

    If we add the participant figures for small sailing boats, rowing, gorge walking and other water based recreational activities it is clear to see that the number of angling participants is extremely low in comparison, and is in stark contrast to what appears to be over inflated figures given by the angling associations. Many of which tend to rely on the number of licenses sold and fail to take into account the number of fishermen who hold dual licenses, or purchased only limited time licenses.

    Most paddlers go paddling regardless of the access situation because the current situation is such a nonsense. This is why organised clarified legislated access is absolutely imperative, to erase the grey areas and to make access policy crystal clear and practically workable. This could be as simple as confirming the concept of jus publicum with regard to our waterways as a common property resource. Voluntary Access Agreements do not meet any workable criteria and I would implore the Minister to attempt to understand this and respond accordingly.

    Given that the UK is home to several of the worlds most respected canoe and kayak manufacturers, as well as producing some of the worlds best competitive boaters for events such as the Olympics, I am sure that you will agree that this situation is not only ironic, but unsustainable, and unfitting for the 21st century.

    While I found the letter from Minister interesting I would be grateful if you could communicate the concerns and issues I have outlined above to him, and in due course hopefully obtain a response that addresses each of those key points specifically and directly.

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    VERY GOOD reply Simon, I wonder if you will get the standard reply from Richard Benyon.

    Don't forget to write directly to Cameron and the rest as well.

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    I wonder if you will get the standard reply from Richard Benyon.
    I should hope not since my letter was in direct response to his standard reply. I requested that my MP ask him to reply to the absolute specific points that I raised in the letter I wrote above. If he gives me another standard reply then he's going to find out that I don't go away that easily!

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    Another standard reply from Nick Cleggs Correspondance officer saying they will pass my letter onto DEFRA, which is a bit rich as I was asking about the olympics and something he is meant to have responsibility for...

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    At least it's a reply. The previous post about about a reply was dated 20 July, and I'm waiting on relies to letters sent on 19 July and 16 May.
    I like to imagine it's taking so long because behind the scenes people are working really hard to try to sort the access out. I think it much more likely that some bod in an office is composing another standard letter and waiting for it to be approved by the DSGN ( Department of Sounds Good but says Nothing)

    Sam

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    Yep I suppose two months to reply is not bad, but then again I also sent on to the parliamentary office and pointed out they had a time limit to reply. (stated on there own site).
    I think it much more likely that some bod in an office is composing another standard letter and waiting for it to be approved by the DSGN ( Department of Sounds Good but says Nothing)
    We if you get a written one it will be a start. There are two geneic photocopies that usually do the rounds.

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    It is beginning to sound that Mr J Paice MP (minister for agriculture and food) is running out of bland statements and subtley trying to tell me to bother him no more!

    Thank you for your further email of 19 July about access to rivers for canoeists. I am sorry to hear that you are not happy with the responses you have received.
    However, I am afraid that there is little I can usefully add on this issue to the current government policy which I have set out in my previous three replies.
    I can only suggest that you may wish to work with canoe groups towards establishing agreements that will provide wider opportunities for paddlers. The Environment agency has published information about how to get permission to use new stretches of water. This includes advice on what type of agreement might be needed, how to find out who owns the land that a river crosses (generally through the land registry) and how to approach landowners to seek an access agreement. This information is published on the EA website.
    Also, Brighton University carried out a study in 2006 on recreational access to inland water and published a report to putting canoe access agreements in place. It is available on the University’s website.
    Yours sincerely

    I'll have to give it a few days now to mull it over before writing back and suggesting that there are maybe one or two things he could do to help.

    Sam

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    I fear that you may get a more intelligent and useful response by talking to a balloon that you have drawn a face onto.

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    Mmmmmmmmmm....
    Mr Paice doesn't have much hair - maybe I have been writing to a balloon by mistake!

    Sam

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    Give him a quick letter explaining how he can help.

    It is amazing that all the department heads do not seem to speak to each other..... Thought they were meant to be governing this country, not playing everyone for themselves.

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    Got a posh postcard from Camerons replies sectretary saying thank you for the questions asked and Cameron will pass it on to the relevant separtment for a proper reply. (Benyon again).

    Going to write back to point out I was looking for HIS opinion as his governments department are the ones trying to stop access at every turn.

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    Default Defra reply - Same as usual

    Another reply from Defra, strangely the same as the other ones I have…
    …although according to the governments thinking about rioters the other week tore-introducing them into society by getting them paddling the law abiding paddlers out there have less rights than a bunch of hoodie wearing thieves......

    Access to Inland waterways

    Thank you for your letter to the Prime Minister about access to inland waterways. Your letter was passed to Defra as the Government Department responsible for this issue and I have been asked to reply.

    The Government is aware that the use of rivers for canoeists and other non-powered craft and river users is an issue in which many people and organisations are interested. More than a quarter of our major river and canal network is available for canoeing and 40%, 1,900k, of that available network is within 15km of an urban area and, consequently, readily accessible to people.

    The Governments decisions around what access it may promote and made using the “Access Policy” which states “We will promote sustainable increased access where it will not adversely impact on existing uses and users, or the economic and conservation value of the site, and associated area, now or in the future. Subject to resources, we will encourage access where managed solutions can be found to remove adverse impacts.”

    Voluntary agreements are considered by Government to be the best way to deliver the greatest benefits for all within this policy. Surveys show that over one million people canoe or kayak each year. Many of these are less experienced, casual users who require easy rivers and like well managed trails with good information provision. We have shown that this is best achieved through agreement.
    Although the ‘Red Card to Red Tape’ report was commissioned by a Government Department, it does not constitute Government Policy. It was commissioned by the Minister for Sport and the Olympics, Hugh Robertson MP, and will feed into the Government’s wider review of regulation being conducted by the Cabinet Office. The report recommends that: “Defra should introduce a statutory right of access in England and Wales for unpowered craft to inland water for recreation purposes. This system of rights and responsibilities should be based on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code”.
    However, Defra is the Department which has policy responsibility for access issues in England and it was not consulted during the review or shown a draft copy of the report. Defra feels that the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 (of which the Scottish Access Code is an integral part) would not be the correct method for increasing access in England.
    The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 created rights of access to most land and water in Scotland. This is often used as an example of what could be achieved with legislation, but Scotland is different to England. Population density in England is over 380 people per square Kilometre, and in Scotland it is just 65. The population density difference is and would be, reflected in the level of use that the rivers are subject to and on the number of landowners affected.
    English rivers have been heavily used by industry over time and this use has created structures in and beside rivers. This management and associated structures create significant health and safety risk for users, and associated liability for those who own them. Scottish rivers are less managed and contain far fewer hazardous structures.

    Health and Safety management is a significant issue on the rivers of England because of the manmade and natural features they contain. At some sites the manmade structures in and around the river, such as weirs culverts and walls, mean that they are not places people should be encouraged to go. There are examples of high weirs surrounded by tall brick walls where relatively unmanageable risks are created.
    The Welsh Assembly Government carried out a full consultation exercise in 2010 in regard to the situation in Wales and also rejected using the Scottish Access Code in Wales, for the reasons outlined above.

    Yours sincerely

    Julie Tucker
    Defra – Customer Contact Unit

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    Perhaps you should reply that you are disappointed that they haven't got anything original to say. Maybe we need to ask specifically for an original reply in future rather than a standard letter.

    - or we could start collecting letters and doing swaps so that we each get full sets: I'll trade you a DEFRA standard response for a Cameron office postcard!
    What am I offered for a Defra minister autograph?

    Sam

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    It is a pity but there letter proves once again that they have not read by letter but instead just posted out the standard reply full of incorrect facts and statements.

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    Default Here we go again

    Dear James Paice
    As you state in your letter dated 29 August, I accept that you can add little on the issue of government policy which you have so clearly set out, but what I am asking for is that government policy is changed, and I’m asking you, as my representative at parliament to help change it.
    We can sit here for ever seeing different sides of this: you repeating government policy in all your letters, and me explaining and giving evidence that it does not work, but this is getting us nowhere. Does your position as a minister mean that you can’t disagree with governments policy?
    What I would like would be a change of government policy, and unless you are hampered by your ministerial position then you could be a great help: You could bring the access problem to peoples attention, you could ask questions of the right people, speak about access and generally raise awareness. You could be a voice to highlight the problems of the present government policy, explaining that the EA advice is impractical (even the Brighton University report admitted that tracing riparian owners is difficult if not impossible at times), you could question the reasons why access to rivers did not form part of the CROW act. You could raise the question of whether LAFs should be able to advise on access over or in water or on recreational activities involving access over or in water, rather than just up to the waters edge
    As the Cambridgeshire access forum report for 2010 asks:” Where is the political will to address this peculiar English problem over access ‘on’ and ‘in’ water?”
    I also await your reaction to Caroline Spelman, (in her ‘Supporting the environment – 12 months on’ statement) where she recognizes that indeed there is a problem, and, with financial investment intends to tackle it and associated problems
    “And we’re investing £110m to clean up England’s rivers, tackling problems that have been sitting in the too-hard basket for too long. We’ll be working with local groups to turn our waterways into healthy wildlife habitats, sort out problems regarding ownership, access, and upkeep, and address sources of pollution.
    The government can be most effective when it sets the right regulatory framework and policy direction. Our Natural Environment White Paper will show how we will improve our environment for future generations, changing how we value our green spaces and getting more people involved so that we can all enjoy the benefits nature brings. “
    (http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/05...t-one-year-on/ )
    The meaning I read from this is that even DEFRA are finally admitting that the policy of voluntary access agreements does not work, costs too much in resources and time, and has had little or no success in the past, and so accepts it needs to set a regulatory framework which will allow access to rivers to be much more straight forward.
    I ask that you, as my Member of Parliament, look at this access problem from a constituents perspective rather than blindly following a policy, formulated by a previous government, which takes no account of a large number of people who would love to be able to use this countries rivers in a way which causes no negative impact if carried out responsibly. I hope you will take time to read this letter and think about these points. Perhaps you could look from a paddlers point of view and see what it would mean to have better access. Perhaps you could then look to the evidence of what the downsides are; what evidence is there that responsible access to the rivers in this country will cause problems? As you don’t seem to like the Scottish system, maybe you could seek evidence from other countries in Europe and see that in reality the problems don’t really exist.

    Yours sincerely
    Sam

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    Just had another reply from Nick Cleggs official letter opener, basically saying the MP's never read the letters sent to them and it is all done by the correspondance secretary. Will type it up when I have time. They Quote the recent 'studdy' where 99% or 400 landowners said they where willing to have canoeing across there land. So calling there bluff now and asking for there names so I can write to them and ask about access across there land. Might even do a FOI to findout what was really said to them (as I already think I know where the 'statement'c came from).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quicky View Post
    Just had another reply from Nick Cleggs official letter opener
    He /she was probably still at school at the last election so can, perhaps, be forgiven for not knowing that the LibDem manifesto said it was policy to change the law in line with Scottish legislation which would provide total clarity on our rights to paddle with or without the consent of local landowners. Ask whether the view contained in the letter represent:-
    • A change in Lib Dem Policy
    • A departure by Nick Clegg from Lib Dem Policy
    • A sad compromised forced upon the valiant Lib Dems by those wicked Conservatives or
    • A suggested reply provided by Defra which has no bearing whatsoever on the views of Nick Clegg or the Lib Dem Party?
    Keith

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    BEat you to it Keith.... That was the letter I got back after asking those sorts of questions. Basically Nick Clegg does not read any letter sent to him it seemed to say. Will type it up tonight and write another letter. The one I have received back from the head of Canoeing at the olympics was interesting. IT talked about the leagcy of Lee Valley and nothing about the questions I had actually asked about access across land to our navigation routes.

    I am getting better feedback from the US and european news agencies. Think I will be definately push for an interview with them about the situation in the UK in Olympic year....

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    Basically Nick Clegg does not read any letter sent to him it seemed to say.
    Interesting. Does this also apply to his constituents?!

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    They might actually answer the questions I asked one day.... but I am not holding my breath...


    Access to inland waterways

    Thank you for your email of 22 September about access to inland waterways for recreation in reply to my letter of 19th September.

    I am sorry that you were disappointed not to get a reply from the Prime Minister, but as I am sure you understand, the Prime Minister is not in a position to reply to the huge volumes of letters he gets every day and it is standard practice for them to be sent to the relevant Departments for a reply. Defra Ministers are also unable to reply to letters raised by members of the public and Members of Parliament on behalf of the Secretary of State and Ministers. It consults policy colleagues throughout the department on issues and opinions which may be brought to our attention. Policy colleagues in turn provide ministers with information and advice about current public concerns on issues which are the responsibility of the Department. So while your letter is not see by ministers, the opinions you expressed are of interest and are brought to their attention in other ways. I can confirm that your letter has been passed on to the relevant policy official to not your concerns on the issue.

    Defra recognises that not all stretches of inland water in England are suitable for water based recreation and that on those that are, there are sometimes conflicting uses. Access agreements are aimed chiefly at those stretches of water which are currently popular for a number or uses and where there is a potential for those uses to come into conflict. They are also aimed at those stretches of water where, if usage was to increase, potential conflicts could arise.

    We believe that two key factors will help to ensure that access agreements are effective:
    The principle that access should be granted by a land owner in consultation with all those with an interest in using that access. The granting of access and the consultation process should be facilitated by a designated body; and
    Access should be underpinned by an agreed national code of conduct which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both the users and owners of the access.

    Access agreements should contain a clear description of the times of year and states of the water when certain activities may not take place and a clear indication of any ingress and egress points created, or existing, along that stretch of water. The agreements should be drawn-up after consultation with all the parties who have an interest in the stretch of water. As well as the landowners and any recreational users or other potential users, this may include local authorities, businesses, and community and conservation interest groups.
    The agreement of access to and along stretches of water will benefit all water users and address issues about the legality of using a stretch of water. The setting up of a designated body which facilitates the creation of agreements would help to ensure that all those with an interest in a stretch of river will have equal voices on the debate about access.

    Also widespread support for voluntary agreements has been demonstrated in the past. During a study, an impressive99% of 400 landowners contacted said they were willing to consider voluntary agreements. Many, however are put off from pursuing agreements because the governing bodies of canoeing in England do not support the use of agreements.

    The Environment Agency has published information on its website about how to get permission to use new stretches of water. This includes advice on what type of agreement might be needed, how to find out who owns land that a river crosses, and how to approach landowners to seek access agreements.

    Yours sincerely

    Julie Tucker
    Defra – Customer Contact Unit

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    and another polite naff off........

    Tank you for contacting the Deputy Prime Minister.

    I am sorry to hear that you were unhappy that your previous letter was referred to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Mr Clegg very much appreciates the time and trouble you have taken to write in and share your thoughts. I have made the department aware of your on going concerns. I do hope this is helpful. Thank you once again for writing.

    Yours sincerely

    Correspondance Officer

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    So while your letter is not see by ministers, the opinions you expressed are of interest and are brought to their attention in other ways. I can confirm that your letter has been passed on to the relevant policy official to not your concerns on the issue.
    While I realise that for ministers to reply to every letter personally would be a bit silly, the above quote says quite a lot about the inner workings of Government and why it is so often completely out of touch with the real world! What, in effect, the above says is that Ministers operate very clearly in a bubble, isolated from the real concerns of the people that they 'hold power' over.

    I can only suggest that we do not give up writing letters as it will get to a point where they realise they cannot ignore it with fob off replies any longer. I haven't even had an acknowledgement from Mr Benyon's underling for my last letter to him. I am taking the lack of response to mean that he cannot reply to the precise points that I put to him (I asked him to reply to the pinpoint specific issues I raised).

  49. #109
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    Thats a new reply that I haven't got in my collection yet. I'm sure my copy will be along in a couple of weeks or longer.

    The principle that access should be granted by a land owner in consultation with all those with an interest in using that access. The granting of access and the consultation process should be facilitated by a designated body; and
    Access should be underpinned by an agreed national code of conduct which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both the users and owners of the access.

    Access agreements should contain a clear description of the times of year and states of the water when certain activities may not take place and a clear indication of any ingress and egress points created, or existing, along that stretch of water. The agreements should be drawn-up after consultation with all the parties who have an interest in the stretch of water. As well as the landowners and any recreational users or other potential users, this may include local authorities, businesses, and community and conservation interest groups.
    The agreement of access to and along stretches of water will benefit all water users and address issues about the legality of using a stretch of water. The setting up of a designated body which facilitates the creation of agreements would help to ensure that all those with an interest in a stretch of river will have equal voices on the debate about access
    According to my research, the local access forums which were set up by government to investigate and ease access in local areas are specifically NOT allowed to advise on access on and in water but only up to the edge.
    My - what a bunch of numptys!

    Sam
    PS - perhaps the thread title should be changed to "writing to you MPs letter opener"

  50. #110

    Default Consider other lines of attack

    Would it be worth starting an E-petition on the Downing site website, and if it is publicised via this website and 100,000 E-signatures are achieved the matter must then be discussed by Parliament.

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    A petition might be okay. But I really do think that the word 'access' should be dropped, and instead any campaign be renamed something along the lines of "Campaign for the recognition of river navigation rights". If someone can encapsulate that into a catchy shorter version...

  52. #112
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    e-petitions have been tried in the past and did not get a lot of people signing up.

    as an example the 38 degrees campaign only have 2,731 people signed up despite a large call out asking for people to sign up.... How many members on here have signed...
    http://38degrees.uservoice.com/forum...hts-in-england
    and a lot of them are wild swimmers as well...

  53. #113

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    I wrote to my MP today:
    Daniel Poulter MP North Ipswich and bits of Suffolk!!
    Tony Burton

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quicky View Post
    e-petitions have been tried in the past and did not get a lot of people signing up.

    as an example the 38 degrees campaign only have 2,731 people signed up despite a large call out asking for people to sign up.... How many members on here have signed...
    http://38degrees.uservoice.com/forum...hts-in-england
    and a lot of them are wild swimmers as well...
    and I seem to have signed it 4 times - dunno how that happened!
    Fran

    Photobucket stole my sig



  55. #115
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    Default Progress - a non standard letter at last!

    From Rt Hon Jim Paice MP minister of state for Agriculture and food


    There are no plans to change the current government policy that I set out in my previous replies. I agree with this policy as it is in line with the governments commitment to protect our environment and to promote access where it will not adversely impact on existing uses and users.
    Voluntary access agreements ensure that the recreational use of rivers and inland waterways are well managed to create safer rivers. They raise awareness of important ecological sites as well as restricting access when needed.
    Short and to the point....... but at least I now know what he thinks! - no surprise really


    Sam

  56. #116
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    A while ago, a loooong while ago I wrote a reply to our friend Mr Benyon to ask him to reply to the SPECIFIC points I raised in this letter that I wrote to him, via my local MP.

    I have just received a reply. As expected he totally ignored the points that I raised, and unfortunately for him I am afraid that I am going to have to point this out to him and keep writing until I get a satisfactory reply.

    Here is his reply to me. It is clearly another pre-written generic photocopy.

    Thank you for your letter of 29 July enclosing a further one from your constituent ............. I apologise for the long delay in replying.

    We recognise that not all stretches of inland water are suitable for water based recreation and that on those that are, there are sometimes conflicting uses. Access agreements are aimed chiefly at those stretches of water which are currently popular for a number of uses and where there is a potential for those uses to come into conflict. They are also aimed at those stretches of water where, if usage was to increase, potential conflicts could arise.

    We believe that two key factors will help to ensure that access agreements are effective:

    - the principle that access should be granted by a land owner in consultation with all those with an interest in using that access. The granting of access and the consultation process should be facilitated by a designated body; and

    - access should be underpinned by an agreed national code of conduct which sets out the rights and responsibilities of both the users and the owners of the access.

    Access agreements should contain a clear description of the times of year and states of the water when certain activities may not take place and a clear indication of any ingress and egress points created, or existing, along the stretch of water. The agreements should be drawn up after consultation with all those parties who have an interest in the stretch of water. As well as the landowner and any recreational users or potential users, this may include local authorities, businesses, and community and conservation interest groups.

    The agreement of access to and along stretches of water will benefit all water users and address issues about the legality of using a stretch of water. The setting up of a designated body to facilitate the setting up of agreements will help to ensure that all those with an interest in a stretch of river will have equal voices in the debate on access.

    Also, widespread support for voluntary agreements has been demonstrated in the past. During a study, an impressive 99% of 400 landowners contacted said they were willing to consider voluntary access agreements. Many, however, are put-off from pursuing agreements because the governing bodies of canoeing in England do not support the use of agreements.

    The Environment Agency has published information on its website about how to get permission to use new stretches of water. This includes advice on what type of agreement might be needed, how to find out who owns the land that a river crosses, and how to approach landowners to seek an access agreement.
    So, all in all he completely and utterly ignored every single point I asked him to address regarding the problems with access agreements.

  57. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimonMW View Post
    ....... I am afraid that I am going to have to point this out to him and keep writing until I get a satisfactory reply.
    Among the other things you need to say could you let him know that this is what the Environment Agency said last week
    Following reorganisation we have reviewed how we manage our recreation delivery within the current financial situation. In line with government policy we are committed to embracing the Big Society agenda which means that we have changed our role with respect to recreation and access.
    This means that we will no longer promote general access to water, including Voluntary Access Agreements, and therefore reference to this has been removed from our website to reflect this new position.

    Whilst he hasn't yet given up on Voluntary Access Agreements, the Environment Agency clearly has!
    Keith

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    You could also ask who these designated bodies are that are going to facillitate the access agreements: Local access forums were set up to facilitate access to the countryside, but are specifically NOT allowed to advise on access on and in water but only up to the edge.
    Sam

  59. #119
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    Default P,f,l,o,p

    Among the other things you need to say could you let him know that this is what the Environment Agency said last week
    Following reorganisation we have reviewed how we manage our recreation delivery within the current financial situation. In line with government policy we are committed to embracing the Big Society agenda which means that we have changed our role with respect to recreation and access.
    This means that we will no longer promote general access to water, including Voluntary Access Agreements, and therefore reference to this has been removed from our website to reflect this new position.




    Whilst he hasn't yet given up on Voluntary Access Agreements, the Environment Agency clearly has!

    Keith, Do you think that the Environment Agency is fed up with fielding questions from MP,s,? it is a very interesting change in their position, 'could' be good news .

  60. #120

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    I have to wonder whether that's a small victory for a few paddlers badgering the EA on FB
    http://www.facebook.com/environmenta...50325917263026

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