Monday, 19 September 2011

New devolution agreements for Ramblers Scotland and Ramblers Cymru signed (19/9/11)

The best access legislation in the world. That's what we have in Scotland, and what we saw when the Ramblers Board of Trustees, together with the senior management team, spent the past weekend at Glenmore Lodge near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park. It was our annual away weekend, where we step back to think about the future direction of the Ramblers. The fantastic right to access that exists in Scotland was brought home to me when talking over the weekend to a South African, who said that he found it amazing that we had such freedom to roam whereas in South Africa there is virtually no access at all to any private land.

I understand that it is the first time in the 76-year history of the Ramblers that the trustees have met in Scotland (historians amongst you might be able to correct me). Denis Canavan, the Convenor of Ramblers Scotland, hosted a dinner for us on the Friday evening along with other members of the Scottish Executive; and on the Saturday, after the work, many of us managed to get out into the national park for some walking (thanks to Dave Morris and Helen Todd from Ramblers Scotland for leading one of the walks).

It was a fitting occasion in which to sign the new devolution agreements for Ramblers Cymru and Ramblers Scotland, which give greater autonomy over policy and decision making in the two countries, as well as greater financial certainty. It's now over a decade since political devolution, and many issues regarding walking, rights of way, and access are decided by the respective governments in these countries. It therefore makes sense for Ramblers Scotland and Ramblers Cymru to have greater autonomy too. For the foreseeable future, we'll still be one organisation. But we'll need to keep this under review - it may be that a time comes when it makes more sense to have totally separate organisations in each country. Whatever happens, we'll still need to work closely together as a Ramblers 'family'.

No comments: