Hillwalking inspiration, supported by you

Hillwalking inspiration, supported by you

Please help UKHillwalking continue to provide varied and free content by becoming an official UKH Supporter. You can show your support and with recieve rewards.

Please help UKHillwalking continue to provide varied and free content by becoming an official UKH Supporter. You can show your support and with recieve rewards.

Loading Notifications...

National Park Authoritys

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
 Danbow73 15 May 2020

Has any one been disappointing by the response from some of the national parks during this crisis? As someone who is largely supportive of the work they do their public statements over the last couple of months have been disappointing to say the least.

For example the weekend before lockdown Snowdoina NPA were widely quoted as having "experienced its busiest ever visitor day in living memory". As someone who was there that weekend, its a lie, the park was very quiet (apart from a 500m stretch by Pen y pass that was made 10x worse due to the buses not running from nant peris which is conveniently where all the pictures were taken). The result was to significantly reduce access to large parts of the park, even for locals - restrictions that might not so easily be reversed.

Then there's the widely publicised statements from the lake district NPA which feels like an attempt to shame people into not visiting when it is clearly allowed under government guidance. I did also find it interesting that one of the justifications mentioned in the BMC article is that the park authority have furloughed most of their staff, but my impression was that they are funded by central government?

One of the two main purposes of the national parks is to "Promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public" and I can't help but thinking that trying to dissuade people from legitimately visiting these areas feels wrong when our outdoor spaces are more important than ever.

28
 toad 15 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

I'm glad I don't have this responsibility. Implementing a difficult and poorly thought out policy at very short notice with a fraction of your usual resources. 

Yes, I'd be trying to make squaring the circle as straightforward as possible, because whatever I did there would be someone constantly sniping from the sidelines

7
 wercat 15 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

No, the LDNPA I think is correct in its communications - not in the long run, but yes, given the abruptness of the change and lack of government consultation with the regions and authorities affected.   Public health authority in Cumbria as well as the police expressed surprise at the suddenness of the change and the lack of warning.  On this occasion they have my full backing.

6
 wercat 15 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

No, the LDNPA I think is correct in its communications - not in the long run, but yes, given the abruptness of the change and lack of government consultation with the regions and authorities affected.   Public health authority in Cumbria as well as the police expressed surprise at the suddenness of the change and the lack of warning.  On this occasion they have my full backing.

I can't comment about Wales where the regulations are different.

4
 wercat 15 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

No, the LDNPA I think is correct in its communications - not in the long run, but yes, given the abruptness of the change and lack of government consultation with the regions and authorities affected.   Public health authority in Cumbria as well as the police expressed surprise at the suddenness of the change and the lack of warning.  On this occasion they have my full backing.

I can't comment about Wales where the regulations are different.

This area was heaving, really heaving, with visitors during the initial infection period and for the time of year the crowds visible in Keswick were amazing

8
In reply to Danbow73:

Do the National Parks have any legal authority to ban people?  I'm thinking of Snowdonia being shut.

Regardless, I'm off out on Monday, park up somewhere discreet on the outskirts of Glossop, then have a 10 mile or so tromp Kinder/Snake way.

2
 Danbow73 15 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

But why have they got reduced resources, given they are funded by central government and that funding will not have changed.

It's not like they didnt have warning. It was clear restrictions were going to eased at least a week before they actually were and that it was in all probability going to involve people getting outdoors.

I dont understand what they need to do to prepare. No facilities are opening so at the most its opening the car parks which never needed to be closed in the first place because gov advice was always that you could drive short distances to exercise.

Just seems ridiculous that the organisations that are set up to look after and promote these places are the most vocal in trying to get people to stay away.

9
 AdrianC 15 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

Much in your post that's arguable.  Just because funding is ultimately drawn from central government doesn't mean you can't be furloughed; just because you can or would like to visit doesn't mean you should be able to as you choose, to choose two examples.

But the crux of the issue is one that is perhaps, like an elephant in the room, so obvious you aren't seeing it. These are times unprecedented in the modern age. Things are going to be a bit different for a while. What used to be, the way we did things as recently as early March, that's gone. We hope it comes back but it might not, not the way it used to be, in more areas of our life than are under the control of the National Park authorities.

I thought that penny had dropped by now.

T.

21
 Myfyr Tomos 15 May 2020
In reply to Ultradecrepidarian:

Welsh Assembly Government do. And they did!

1
 coldfell 15 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

Keswick was absolutely normal pre lockdown - it is a really busy vibrant town  - I work there - it has been a ghost town since. So many small local businesses will go under if this 'pull up the drawbridge' ethos is followed. It is shocking that the local police, tourist board and yes MRT are being so vociferous against government advice (rubber stamping the scientific advice) to gradually start opening up.

Yesterday I drove a friend to Wansbeck Hospital in Ashington, she had a serious accident before lockdown and her clinic from Hexham had been moved there - (she has no family locally)- after a 2hour drive there was nowhere for me to use the loo, (being reluctant to go in the hospital) - the car parks at the coast were closed and toilets too - it can be a real problem! and for no scientific reason.

1
 Danbow73 15 May 2020
In reply to coldfell:

Interesting to hear it from a local. My fear is that areas that rely on tourism are not best served by a strong you are not welcome message. 

 Danbow73 15 May 2020
In reply to Pursued by a bear:

I understand they can still furlough their staff but if the salaries are already paid by central government I would question if this is ethical.

Why shouldn't I be able to visit if its lawful to do so? The NPA's are supposed to promote the parks not be the gate keepers

I get this is unprecedented but I also think that its right that a very high bar is set to restrict peoples freedoms. The lock down was the right thing to do but when all the science points to outdoor activities carrying a minimal risk of transmission then it's right to raise the restrictions as we should not impinge on peoples freedoms for longer than is absolutely necessary 

I get people are scared but how long do we encourage people to stay away for? This virus isnt going anywhere. It is largely everywhere now, so the movement of people around the country is largely irrelevant (hence the focus on social distancing) and I'm still at a loss as to how anyone can say social distancing is impossible on a mountain.

1
 Blunderbuss 16 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

I went out for a stroll up Black Hill in the Peak District yesterday and saw 3 other people. Yes it was Friday but to put it bluntly I'm not staying away from National Parks just because you'll get a few idiots in the honeypot locations.

The same would apply if I lived close to the Lake District, I wouldn't go for a wander round Windermere or Bowness today but there are plenty of quiet locations where if you just park up and head into the hills what harm are you doing? 

1
 r0b 16 May 2020
In reply to coldfell:

But I'm pretty sure most of these small local businesses are still unable to open up at the moment, so whether no-one comes to Keswick this weekend or thousands isn't going to make any difference to them sadly

1
In reply to r0b:

> But I'm pretty sure most of these small local businesses are still unable to open up at the moment, so whether no-one comes to Keswick this weekend or thousands isn't going to make any difference to them sadly

If there are customers, they might be able to offer some table or counter service from the shop doorway. Any revenue is better than none. They'll all still be paying rent and utilities etc. 

 wercat 16 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

you can say what you like but people are rather worried and it has been done quite precipitately.  A sobering sight in the village this morning - ambulance with blue lights outside the house where a paramedic lives, someone who comes out to wave on Thursday evenings. 

3
L M H Charlton 17 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

I agree - the response of the National Parks in Wales has been shameful in their language and almost total subjugation to the authorities no matter how illogical the measures taken.  And worse, they continually pander to the fearful and narrow-minded regionalist attitudes of many in rural communities -  without even a word of balance to the contrary. 

The Pembroke Coast Authority, for example, had the admittedly unenviable job of assessing and closing those access points which might encourage large gatherings, and also any areas of the path on which might be difficult to facilitate social distancing and cause a risk in passing on the virus.  Their actual response was to close every single car park and the entire coastal path overnight - that's not a measured assessment; its a knee jerk reaction to fall into line without any question, nuance or thought for a little sensible discretion that would make a huge difference to those of us who live locally and can see that the there are wider issues which need consideration

But worse - indeed, much, much worse in my opinion - has been their terrible ill-considered messaging and choice of language - my letter to the Chief Exec makes clear what I mean and is pasted below.

Dear sir, 

I write to express concern at the recent message from Destination Pembrokeshire Partnership, and more broadly the tone of communications from the National Park authority throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

This may seem counter-intuitive, because, as do most sensible people, I fully support the restrictions on social movement.  So as not to be disingenuous I should be clear that I have some concerns over the near blanket of the coast path to locals, but broadly, I understand there are no easy alternatives. My main concern, however, is the tonal undercurrent of communications that reinforce a sense of 'us and them' and 'insiders and outsider'  and  (whether intentional or not) contributed to a zeitgeist that is potentially damaging, wrong in fact and shabby in spirit.

To give but one example, the recent comments from the  Chairman of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority, Cllr Paul Harries, include the statement "...protecting our rural communities is our priority right now and this can only be achieved by adhering to Government guidelines.

This reinforces the impression of marauding infected outsiders coming to infect a purer Pembrokeshire - when in fact the reason for discouraging social gathering through restrictions on movement is to protect the health of ALL PERSONS, including those who would travel.  And surely that should be the priority of the Park Authority! 

The Coastal path and its car parks etc are there for all the people of Wales -  the park is not 'owned' by Pembroke residents, nor do they have priority 'per se' over its use - just as the National Stadium and National Museum are for all the people of Wales, without any special responsibility for the people of Cardiff.

The people of Pembrokeshire (myself included) would do well to remember all those 'others' and 'outsiders' who every day supply us with goods and services on which our rural communities depend - those people are not prioritising their health by not coming to support us! 

I suggest it would have been more balanced for the communication to also mention that when restrictions ease, the people of Pembrokeshire may - in reciprocation of these concerns - have to accept equivalent restrictions on travel to say, Swansea or Carmarthen to visit shopping centres.  And this reciprocation is important because it shows we care about everyone's health and we are mindful of our wider social responsibility to Wales and the UK as a whole.

I suspect that to some this will seem like playing with phrases  - but words matter - and their implications have consequences.  

The tone of the communication from the National Park is conspicuous in its lack of any sense of regret.  Nowhere can I see on your website any mention of sorrow.  Compare your social media message at Easter  - "there's never been a worse time to visit Pembrokeshire'. with Ramblers Cymru message that 'with great sadness we announce that all events are cancelled..'  Can you see how that simple use of the word sadness makes all the difference.  Within minutes of my home are official signs confirming closure of the Coast Path - not on any of them is an equivalent expression of regret - would that have been so difficult to include? Instead, we have additional signs from fearful locals urging Stay Away - Go Home - and other neo-tribal unnecessary slogans.

Pembrokeshire will reap what it sows - and iI would urge the National Park, as a key institution and thought leader in the region, to consider more carefully the tone and content of its communication to those on whose future we will depend.  It may seem a small matter, but it is easy to do and would, I suggest, make a huge difference to your PR.

Regards

Post edited at 19:52
2
 mondite 18 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

> you can say what you like but people are rather worried and it has been done quite precipitately. 

In your opinion.

> A sobering sight in the village this morning - ambulance with blue lights outside the house where a paramedic lives, someone who comes out to wave on Thursday evenings. 

So the chances of having caught it from one of those tourists is? So the relevance is?

2
 BennoC 18 May 2020
In reply to M H Charlton:

BBNP have done a similar thing. Closed off all areas above the hill fence. I understand closing car parks at honeypot sites, but closing areas where you will rarely see anyone, even on a sunny bank holiday, seems harsh. The people that live in the area are left with no choice but to walk by the canal or river or cycle paths making these areas very congested, while the hills are empty. 

 wercat 18 May 2020
In reply to mondite:

the mood and perception of danger, obvious really

by the way it's already been said by me and by others that there are reactions from police and health authorities, councils etc that it was done hastily that make your assertion that it is my opinion irrelevant and nonsensical.  Good for you

The fact that police were active here at the weekend against overnight campers etc shows it is not just my opinion

Post edited at 10:52
5
 Ridge 18 May 2020
In reply to Danbow73:

I think they've called it about right. You mentioned about NP staff being funded by central government, but I believe they have very few full-time staff (funding for the National Opera house in London exceeeds the total funding for all the NPs in England and Wales IIRC). There's a heavy reliance on volunteers to fix footpaths and litter pick, which won't currently be available.

As countless posters have pointed out above, these are not normal times. Restrictions have been eased, not ended. The idea that NPs should be encouraging people to visit as if it's normal holiday season just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The vast majority of visitors probably don't stray more than a few hundred metres from the car and cluster in the honeypots and gear shops. For the majority of visitors there's not a lot to do other than cluster together.

Visiting is allowed under national guidance. At local level there's a stategic coordination group which includes the local authority, the emergency services, local NHS trusts etc. In addition to information from PHE and other national bodies they'll also look at local trends, numbers of cases, number of beds, rate of infection spread in local hospitals & care hospitals, number of mortuary spaces, available number of responders and other key staff, PPE provision, crime rates etc. 

If the police and NPs are advising against travel they may well have a very good reason, as they'll have a far clearer picture of the situation than Boris or random people on the internet.

9
 mondite 18 May 2020
In reply to wercat:

> the mood and perception of danger, obvious really

I am more interested in actual risk rather than opinion. I mean its lucky all these scummy townies dont take the same attitude and shut down all the support network to the countryside isnt it?

That you went for the nice emotional claim about the paramedic shows the weakness of your argument. Are you seriously trying to imply that was down to the tourists and not the job?

> by the way it's already been said by me and by others that there are reactions from police and health authorities, councils etc that it was done hastily that make your assertion that it is my opinion irrelevant and nonsensical.  Good for you

And plenty of others authorities disagree with them.  So we can both do appeals to authority.

1
 wercat 18 May 2020
In reply to mondite:

it wasn't a wish to score a point - that happened minutes before my post and I was a bit shocked at the time at the scene outside.

you haven't made your point at all

are you one of the voters who put this lying set of people in charge?

Post edited at 18:19

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.