Janet Street-Porter joins fellow Ramblers to mark access summit

Senior Ramblers and campaigners met in the village of Stalling Busk, near Bainbridge, earlier this month where vice-president Janet Street-Porter unveiled a plaque to mark the Stalling Busk summit.

The summit was a meeting of the Ramblers’ campaign planners in August 1996 and the meeting at which they agreed many of the principles in the draft Access Bill.

This became the basis for the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, giving the public freedom to walk over mapped mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land.

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The 1996 meeting was held in the old school house at Stalling Busk, next door to a cottage owned by Jerry Pearlman, Ramblers’ former honorary solicitor and long-time member of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, who drafted a prototype Access Bill. The plaque is on Jerry’s cottage.

Unveiling the plaque, Janet Street-Porter said: “There are three basic freedoms: the freedom to vote, the freedom to be equal, and the freedom to walk in as many places as possible. The 1996 meeting was a vital step in the Ramblers’ campaign towards the third of those freedoms.”

Ramblers’ vice-chair, Kate Ashbrook, who chaired the 1996 access meeting, added: “The Countryside and Rights of Way Act was a major milestone in the campaign for greater freedom to roam—but the Ramblers’ job is not done. Whatever one thinks about Brexit, it is an opportunity to ensure that public subsidies for farmers and landowners include significant spending on public access to the lovely countryside of Yorkshire and beyond.”

Paddy Tipping, ex-Nottinghamshire MP led the successful access campaign in Parliament. He said: “The next campaign must be to secure greater rights for ordinary people to enjoy the land—this land is our land.”

Among those present was Carl Lis, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Mark Corner, chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society.

The event was organised by Mike Church and Keith Wadd of the West Riding Ramblers.