Hill walking the peak priority as BMC visits Westminster

Posted by Carey Davies on 26/06/2013
Promoting Britain on Foot. L - R: Benedict Southworth (Ramblers), Alan Hinkes, John Mann MP, David Rutley MP, David Turnbull (BMC), Andrew Denton (OIA)

A busy day speaking to politicians in Westminster saw the BMC help to boost the profile of Britain on Foot and raise our concerns about how proposed legislation could hurt the interests of outdoorgoers.

In an event hosted by the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) last Wednesday (June 19), the BMC linked up with the Ramblers, David Rutley MP, John Mann MP and mountaineer Alan Hinkes in a room just off Westminster Hall to introduce the Britain on Foot (BoF) campaign to as many MPs as possible and supply them with information on how to get involved.

It was a huge success, with 25-30 MPs coming through the door and receiving information packs describing how to support BoF. Earlier in the day OIA CEO Andrew Denton and marketing director Terry Stephenson had delivered one of these packs to Number 10 Downing Street.

Straight afterwards the BMC hosted a meeting of the Mountaineering All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), which saw MPs from all three main parties discuss the most pressing issues affecting outdoorgoers. Hill walking featured prominently in the discussions, with OIA chief executive Andrew Denton giving an update on the progress of BoF and the BMC’s new hill walking officer, Carey Davies, talking about his role.

The BMC’s concerns with the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, currently working its way through the House of Commons, were also raised. One of the stated aims of this bill is to clamp down on anti-social behaviour, but representatives from the BMC told MPs of their fear that the scope for this legislation could be used to restrict or prohibit access to open spaces such as commons, village greens and quarries for legitimate recreational activities, like climbing and walking.

Dave Turnbull, BMC CEO, said: “It was a useful and productive day for both Britain on Foot and the BMC.

“The BMC has been behind Britain on Foot from the start, which the OIA has done a great job of promoting in the corridors of Westminster and in the wider world. The challenge now is to turn it from an awareness-raising campaign to something that has a real impact on people’s lives.

“The APPG was also very valuable. We discussed how supporting and promoting hill walking is a priority for us in the coming period, which dovetails well with the aim of Britain on Foot.

“MPs were also receptive to our concerns over the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, agreeing that it needed to be properly scrutinised to avoid legitimate activity like climbing and walking being ‘caught in the net.’”

The meeting was attended by John Mann MP, David Rutley MP, Kris Hopkins MP, Derek Twigg MP, Lilian Greenwood MP, Greg Mulholland MP, Nia Griffith MP, Lord Greaves and Lord Haworth, along Dave Turnbull (BMC CEO), Carey Davies (BMC Hill Walking Development Officer), Andrew Denton (OIA), Mark Robinson (Carnegie Great Outdoors), Capt Stevan Jackson (MOD / National Battle Back Centre).



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