Wednesday, 17 March 2010


This is the first in a series giving details of conservation and preservation initiatives in the Notts/Derbyshire area. Rather than providing fully-fledged articles, it will just contain  brief details, a bit of background and contact points.

Butterley Iron Works
Stanton Iron works 

See my articles  `A Tale of Two Ironworks` (this blog, 6 Feb 2010) and `Ironworks Revisited` (this blog, 21 Feb 2010) for background and contact details.

Rushcliffe Greenfields

Signs of life from the strange land of SoRT (South of the River Trent) . They do things differently there, but this is an interesting campaign concerned with plans to build housing and a football stadium on Green Belt land. Numerous community groups are involved in the campaign and member Tony Stace has written three blog articles which address the wider issues - What Use is the Green Belt ? , Where Should Houses Be Built ?,  What to do With all the Cars ? His views may not be yours, but at least he`s prepared to get a discussion going.

Save Heanor Town Centre / Say No to Tesco Extension

A fledgling camapign mounted by the owners of independent businesses in this former mining town on the Notts/Derbyshire border. Details from and

Tesco will be looking nervously at this one, having recently lost a 14-year long battle with the Save Our Sheringham campaign (see

Rufford Incinerator

The proposed Rufford Energy Recovery Facilitator - that`s `incinerator` to you and me - is opposed by Notts Wildlife Trust. A policy briefing is available from them at . The ongoing public inquiry into the matter is due to resume on April 13. Unlike some other campaigners against incinerators, the Wildlife Trust accepts that some use of incineration is necessary, for non-compostible, non-recycleable items, but objects to the proposed siting of the incinerator on the site of the former Rufford Colliery, due to the likely impact on wildlife in the area. 

The issue is complicated by the fact that government departmenty DEFRA pays £3m per year towards the County Council`s 26 year waste contract with incinerator operators Veolia (in order to take the pressure off landfill sites) and could potentially claw back some of that funding if planning permission is refused. Obviously that would be less of an issue if a different site was found.

N.B. Another contractor, Waste Recycling Group, has been given permission to expand existing incineration facilities at it`s Eastcroft site, near to Nottingham City Centre, to the point where it will be able to process 430,000 tonnes of waste per year. Some campaigners  query whether there is in fact any need for another incinerator under those circumstances. 

Other interested parties ; People Against Incineration ( ) , Friends of the Earth ( ).

Other sources :

Derby Incinerator

Another anti-incinerator campaign is expected after council officers recommended approval for Cyclamax`s plans for an incinerator to be sited at Derby Commercial Park, near Raynesway.

It`s too early for campaign details to have emerged , but Derby FoE is affiliated to UK Without Incineration ( ).

Other sources -

Mann`s Bridge
The Grantham Canal Society ( ) are currently lobbying the Secratry of State for Transport, claiming that extensive alterations to the A46 Fosse Way will impact on  Bridge Number 16 ( `Joshua Mann`s Bridge` ) at  Nottingham Road, Stragglethorpe, near Cropwell Lock. 

If I understand correctly,  planners had an obligation to take the navigability of the canal into consideration but did not take into account the fact that the bridge would need to be heightened or  the canal could be impassable at that point. The contractors cannot unilaterally change the plans without the Secretary of State`s consent and the Highways Agency have simply stated that the bridge could always be heightened at a later date. The Society, understandably, believe that if the work is not done now, it will never happen.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Ramblers Revisited

Anyone interested in my earlier article `Rambling Through Adversity` (this blog 10 December 2009). Might be interested to know how The Ramblers are faring.

Sadly, the Scottish and Welsh offices have now been closed with a number of redundancies, leaving only one office, the organisation`s headquarters in London. As predicted, it does seem that suggestions the organisation might move it`s HQ out of London are unfounded (though many members feel such a move would be desireable !) and probably intended to annoy Chief Exec Tom Franklin.

On 24 November last year, Mr Franklin met with a number of  members of The Ramblers in Leeds to put his side of the story. As always the case in this kind of situation, various views and concerns were expressed and a number of issues addressed, but a few points stand out as being of particular interest.

 Pressed on the reasons for the downturn in the organisation`s finances, Franklin explained that membership, donations and income from appeals were all down, with membership standing at 125,000. Low interest rates also meant that income from assets was low, and there were problems with some legacies, property being harder to sell. Apparently he conceded that income and expenditure had only been monitored quarterly prior to the crisis, but stated that this was now being done on a monthly basis.

Franklin did, naturally, list a number of recent achievements, some of which I mentioned in my earlier article. Whatever criticisms may be levelled at Tom Franklin, there have been a number of positive results during his tenure as I`ve mentioned before.

Faced with comments that the organisation was becoming a `pedestrian` (walking for health) organisation and straying too far from it`s original campaigning role, he disputed this, pointing out that £133,000 was at that time allocated for 8 ongoing cases (Some of these have now been resolved successfully. In at least one case, the Ramblers have been able to claim costs from the other side).

It`s fair to say that not everyone was convinced and doubters are now organised around their own web site ,   . One great source of annoyance has been the decision to make cuts in the Campaigns Section, rather than one of the other areas. Another is the increasing workload of Group Secretaries etc, who are all volunteers, as The Ramblers increasingly turn their attention to urban issues such as gated alleyways. Many feel insufficient funds have been allocated to campaigns for the comning year, particularly given that many feel the Publications Section is needlessly extravagant ( £540,516.00 has been allocated to Campaigns, as compared to £667,407.00  for Marketing and Communications, £681,091.00 for Publications and £1,216,257.00 for Operations).

It does appear that some of this lobbying is having a result. Tom Franklin appeared on TV`s The One Show recently to talk about the Kinder Scout Mass Trespass (one wonders what Benny Rothman would have made of that !), and the Spring 2010 issue of Walk ( has more campaign news than usual. 

News of office closures and redundancies sent shock waves through the organisation. Many supporters felt this very deeply, particularly since some had formed close bonds with campaign workers over the years. Poor communication with members exacerbated the problem, but there does seem to have been an issue with insufficient monitoring of income and expenditure, and also of a lack of accountability. One problem with charities, one which I`ve encountered before with another organisation, is that they`re regulated externally by the Charity Commissioners, who often seem somewhat limited in their scope for action, and internally by a Board (sometimes called a Council) of Trustees who, despite having a legal responsibility to ensure that organisations are properly run,  often seem to simply rubber-stamp management decisions without subjecting them to too much scrutiny. One wonders whether a similar situation existed with The Ramblers.

Tom Franklin and The Ramblers have ambitious plans for the comming year. Whether there are sufficent funds and manpower (and whether those assets have been sensibly allocated) to deliver on those plans remains to be seen. With a history going back over 75 years, The Ramblers have (quite literally in some cases) weathered a few storms and I feel certain the organisation as a whole will live to fight another day !