Thursday, 10 December 2009

Rambling Through Adversity ?

That`s enough local material for a while, time for something national.

The Ramblers (nee The Ramblers Association) has been through troubled times recently.

Detractors of the organisations` Chief Executive, Tom Franklin claim that he and his peers failed to monitor expenditure at the Ramblers` central office in London, and then resorted to panic measures on realising that the organisation had serious money worries. 

For his part, Franklin now claims that the organisation has been affected by  the recession and has had to "adapt accordingly" (Walk Magazine , Winter 2009) , though he fails to make it clear to members that this `adaptation` involves job losses and office closures.

However the situation has come about,  his rather secretive approach has allowed  rumour to flourish, and has made accurate informaton hard to find. It does seem that certainly the Scottish Office and possibly the Welsh office are scheduled for closure, with attendant job losses, and that the Campaigns section has been reduced in size. Many have queried the logic behind these measures, particularly given that the Scottish office had delivered an increase in membership, and that the organisation`s reputation for effective campaigning is a key part of its` appeal. By Franklins` own admission, most Ramblers members are not active in their local group, which must surely imply that they hand over their hard-earned dosh to support campaigns.

Suggestions that The Ramblers HQ will move away from London, which appear in various online forums, may well prove to be spoofs, possibly intended to annoy Tom Franklin, who is regarded in some quarters as having a regional bias.

Be that as it may, there are some positives. In Scotland, some prominent members are engaged in fundraising in an effort to save Ramblers Scotland. The Ramblers Wales website gives no indication of any equivalent moves there, but may be worth checking out as the situation progresses.

Nationally, the organisation is celebrating a hard-earned victory as new legislation is finally giving the public access rights to almost the entire British coast, something it achieved by working closely with official bodies and with other members of Wildlife and Countryside Link, an umbrella body comprising The Ramblers, The Open Spaces Society and many others. It should be said in fairness to Tom Franklin that this success, which The Ramblers had been aiming at for over 50 years, came to fruition during his period of leadership.

Turning to the future, The Ramblers is now joining forces with the John Muir Trust, The National Trust for Scotland and The Mountaineering Council for Scotland to oppose the proposed Beauly Denny powerline which would put a 138 mile line of 600 mega-pylons  through the heart of the Scottish highlands. Other activities willl include promoting the Get Walking Keep Walking website and launching a Manifesto for the Walking Environment. Again, it`s only fair to give Tom Franklin some of the credit for this very worthy work, particularly given that he has had to perform his duties whilst coping with a great deal of hostility and criticism, not all of it well thought out.  

While it`s right that we should think of those staff members who certainly have lost their jobs through no fault of ther own - anyone who`s ever faced redundancy will surely sympathise with them -  there seems hope  that The Ramblers as a whole will prove resilient in the face of adversity.


The Ramblers Manifesto -

Ramblers Scotland -

Ramblers Wales -

Wildlife and Countryside Link -

John Muir Trust -

National Trust Scotland -

Mountaineering Council of Scotland -

Walk Magazine -

Get Walking Keep Walking -

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