Rushup Roar : The story so far

by
October 29, 2014

In a story that seems ready to rumble (or should that be rubble) on, there’s been a bit of uproar about Rushup Edge this week…

It's good to talk
It’s good to talk

Spotting what they considered to be unnecessary and unexpected repairs, which threatened to destroy the character of the moorland sunken track, Peak District MTB held a protest picnic at Rushup Edge to highlight the issue and the lack of dialogue with the County Council carrying out repairs despite trying to engage them. This has gained some media attention,  featuring as a topic for discussion on BBC Radio Sheffield today, as well as generating something of a social media storm resulting in Derbyshire County Council (DCC) issuing a fairly non committal, cut and paste, generic email reply to concerned users.

At present works are on hold while the Peak District National Park Authority (PDNPA) find out what’s going on (it seems they were as surprised as we were that the work was being carried out): “@peakdistrict staff have asked @Derbyshirecc staff to pause on repairs to Chapelgate. We’re visiting later this week to agree improved work” – https://twitter.com/PeakChief/status/526985128074305536

In an email to concerned parties they expanded on this:

“We understand the concerns that mountain-bikers have about the recent works carried out by DCC to maintain the bridleways and byways in the National Park and we also understand that DCC has a duty to carry out maintenance to the route network.

The National Park Authority clearly has a role here in relation to its management of recreation in the Park, and it is also keen to ensure that repairs and maintenance are carried out in a way which recognises the sensitivities of the site, in accord with National Park conservation purposes.

We are therefore very keen to take every opportunity to engage with DCC on its plans for work on these tracks, and to ensure that their works take our values into account. We will also seek to ensure that all relevant interests and user groups are kept informed and understand actions on these sites. We have had some success in relation to Cut Gate, the Roych and more recently on Long Causeway and are keen to maintain this involvement. 

Following the unexpected commencement of works at Rushup Edge, we have contacted DCC and asked them to arrange an urgent site visit to look in detail at what work they are planning there before work progresses any further, to ensure that they understand our requirements as outlined above.”

Given that a 2012 PDNPA monitoring report on Chapel Gate found users enjoyment was impacted by “the repairs/improvements to the track”,  and that no users mentioned safety as a concern in regard to trail conditions, it would bring into question DCC’s reasoning behind “repairs” being necessary. In their reply to us yesterday they stated their motive was to  “ensure that all users entitled to use this route can do so in the knowledge that the route is safe.” and “To provide a route that caters for the majority of users entitled to legally use the route.

With this in mind here’s our follow up questions:

1) Was the route monitored to measure a rate of deterioration? It is many users opinion that having eroded to bedrock the route had been stable for many years.

2) I notice that you mention making the route “safe” several times in both the replies we’ve received . Could you expand on how the route was assessed to be dangerous and how you’ve risk assessed it will be safer as a result of your works?
3) “Our approach ties in very well with the guiding principles which are to ensure that all users entitled to use this route can do so in the knowledge that the route is safe.” Below are the principles I was referring to, could you explain where it refers to routes being “safe” and what you consider this to mean?

1 Fundamentals

 Take account of conservation, heritage, recreation, cultural and landscape objectives.
 Do not take away people’s sense of freedom and adventure.
 Avoid restrictions on access.
2 Awareness
Ensure that your visitors know the risks they face.
Inform and educate your visitors about the nature and extent of hazards, the risk control measures in place, and the precautions that they should take.
 3 Partnership
Recognise that people taking part in similar activities accept different levels of risk.
Recognise that risk control measures for one visitor group may create risks to others.
Work with visitor groups to promote understanding and resolve conflict.
4 Responsibility
It is important to strike a balance between visitor self-reliance and management intervention.
It is reasonable to expect visitors to exercise responsibility for themselves.
It is reasonable to expect visitors not to put others at risk.
It is reasonable to expect parents, guardians and leaders to supervise people in their care.
5 Risk control
Assess risks and develop safety plans for individual sites.
Risk control measures should be consistent.
Risk control measures should take account of wider benefits to society.
Monitor the behaviour and experiences of visitors to review visitor safety plans.
Make sure that your work activities do not expose visitors to risk.

From: Visitor Safety in the Countryside Group

 

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