/ NEWS: Stanage – A Nice Little Earner?
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=66976
You make reference to a report yet provide no link to it. Get with it - this is the internet age after all!
Not that hard: http://resources.peakdistrict.gov.uk/ctte/audit/reports/2012/120323Item7-2.pdf
Link including the appendicies: http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/index/committee-meeting-papers?com=audit120323
The issue still remains that John or Jack should have provided it as a matter of course.
Good write-up John, a worrying development. As of 2012 the Peak National Park has a new 'Corporate Priority' (no. 12) - income generation. Methinks we will be seeing more of this...
It was me who was 'utterly useless' I shall fire myself from the job of setting up articles forthwith. I have now added the link.
Thanks for pointing it out and my humble apologies for making such a monumental cock-up.
> The issue still remains that John or Jack should have provided it as a matter of course.
Ohhhh, go easy on me, I'm a steam driven journo, not up to speed with t'interweb.....
I think the real choice is between:
a) Generating income through parking/camping etc in order to prop up a big, fat and not particularly effective bureaucracy
b) Allowing some one like the NT/RSPB to invest money in the estate.
No brainer to my mind.....
Well looking at the paper they are hoping for 'market engagement' and 'entrepreneurial solutions'. I guess the coffee van at the Plantation would be an example, though I agree, I struggle to see much else other than parking fees.
I imagine, in the same position, an organisation like the National Trust would be able to generate income through more indirect channels like membership, or an appeal leading to an endowment. Without those channels I don't see the National Park in a great position.
Basing a news article on a report, speech, interview or scientifc paper and then not providing a link to the original source is just one of the most annoy traits of modern 'internet' journalism, is completely unecessary and really winds me up.
Unfortunately, both the BBC and most broadsheets' internet sites are repeatedly guilty of this, although some individual commentators can be pretty good.
This rather begs the question as to whether climbers (or any other group) could completely block any sale indefinitely by setting up a new community group every six months...
Shades of Monty Python:
The Peak Climber's Front
Climber's Front of the Peak
The Peak Popular Climber's Front
What a shame. It feels as though the only consideration of the situation is based upon who owns the land and what they wish to exploit from it, be that [the right to refuse] access, [selling] services that may be available at the location or actual real estate value in terms of what it can be sold for.
I bet my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great uncle Dave who, in days of yore, used to look at the rocks at Stanage and The Roaches and wonder if anyone would ever be brave enough to struggle to conquer their stature and earn true appreciation of their majesty would have even understood if you said that somebody owned them.
I think, with my modern day view of property rights and incorporation of business, that we should subsidise farmers to grow nothing there and give them government grants to maintain the place. Then we could all carry on climbing as if nobody owned the place!
On a more serious note (though I do have real trouble understanding this hang up with property ownership that our society has); what are the actual costs to 'run' the estate? I have to admit that I haven't looked for any answers to the question myself, but it strikes me that the place could be left to grow wild and it would still be the same beautiful place and could still be enjoyed and appreciated by the same groups who do so now. Now if only we could get people who drop litter to be conscientious and not do it.
>what are the actual costs to 'run' the estate?
About 40K/year currently I think. The campsite breaks even and the parking brings in a few grand. Not sure how the HLS payments work, the tenant farmer may get the bulk of it.
>we should subsidise farmers to grow nothing there and give them government grants to maintain the place
Your idea of how it should be run isn't far off the current situation. However the funding is being removed.
Given that car parking charges exist elsewhere, why should there *not* be a fee for parking there?
I would oppose admission fees, but the idea of car parking charges is well established pretty much everywhere else.
Big fat red herring there Neil. Car parking charges already exist even if they are voluntary. The question is do you want to see Stanage used as a source of revenue by a not particularly efficient bureaucracy ie, the National Park Authority? The alternative is the kind of excellent partnership between the NT/RSPB that is burgeoning on the Eastern Moors. That surely is the best model....
The more I look at this, the more sinister it becomes. When the NT/RSPB took over the management of the Eastern Moors, it was at a peppercorn rent. When Staffs Wildlife Trust took on The Roaches, it is rumoured that a large sum of money was involved. Money matters. Now, the tender process for North Lees has materially changed. There is no longer an assumption that a partner will be found to take over management. The new 'Gateway Disposal Process' allows the Peak District National Park Authority to pull out of negotiations at almost any time. Is the whole process becoming a fishing exercise? Are they simply trying to pick the brains of potential bidders? The opaque nature of the entire process should be a cause of concern to all those who hold Stanage and North Lees dear....
> The more I look at this, the more sinister it becomes.
or is the Park authority just trying to maintain maximum control on the dispersal process in order to get the best balance between sale price and user benefit ?
> or is the Park authority just trying to maintain maximum control on the dispersal process in order to get the best balance between sale price and user benefit ?
TBH, that was my thought, I'm all for transparency in local government, but I don't see anything particularly sinister here. Maybe I'm just being naive...
Frankly, I wouldn't trust the crew in charge of the Peak Park as far as I can throw them....
> I think the real choice is between:
> a) Generating income through parking/camping etc in order to prop up a big, fat and not particularly effective bureaucracy
> b) Allowing some one like the NT/RSPB to invest money in the estate.
We should support wind turbines on Stanage Moor. End of. They'd generate income, have a small footprint and would leave much of the environment unchanged apart from a modest visual impact.
> We should support wind turbines on Stanage Moor. End of. They'd generate income, have a small footprint and would leave much of the environment unchanged apart from a modest visual impact.
Are you serious?
Both. The PDNPA hasn't covered itself in glory recently and looks more and more like a self perpetuating bureaucracy. The document is management bullshit, opaque to all but nerds and completely ignores existing bodies that have an interest in the management of the estate such as the Stanage Forum. Big society my arse.....
I think you'll find if NT/RSPB get to manage the estate car parking fees will become one of the main money making ways they will go about funding the management. Of course if you join the NT at £50 a year (or something around there) you will have "free" parking. I have no particular complaints about charging for parking, if someone is building and maintaining a parking area then it seems pretty fair but don't go thinking that a change of ownership from the Park will mean free parking for all.
Hi Dave. The meeting is on Friday and Henry Folkard will be making representations on our behalf. Let's see what happens and then we can start campaigning! Of course, we might be reading to much into it.......
A few years ago Dave, I'd have agreed with you. However, as far as I know there are no plans to introduce parking charges on the Eastern Moors, now managed by NT/RSPB, so don't assume they'd introduce compulsory charges at North Lees....
Having had some discussions with the NT and RSPB I am confident of a couple of things - with the BMC's involvement parking charges would be a last resort, and if we did go down that road all BMC members, not just NT, would be entitled to free parking.
The BMC Peak Area are trying to ensure this subject stays very much in the national view on BMC material (rather than just in the peak area). The Ed Douglas article on the BMC website (linked above) is very good.
Maybe from the reports but in the real world we look at the context at what happened at The Roaches. Stanage is incredibly important and its wise for all interested climbers to be very watchful.
> Maybe from the reports but in the real world we look at the context at what happened at The Roaches.
Have I missed something? Have SWT changed things? I've not been paying close attention last few weeks.
> Have I missed something? Have SWT changed things? I've not been paying close attention last few weeks.
What they changed was the playing field for this process - by paying over market value (250K reportedly) for a piece of public land with extremely limited means of generating income.
When the forestry sell-off was in the news, the NT, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts all stood side by side and said they would not get drawn into this kind of situation - bidding against each other to pay inflated prices for public land. I am hopeful their management of the land will be a big success, but I don't think we can look on the acquisition as such.
You could argue that the likes of the lottery, landfill, aggregates etc distort the market, allowing bodies like Wildlife Trusts to box above their weight, but that's a different issue
No one is saying that SWT are a bad organisation and indeed our local access rep has always worked with them. However, they did pay a large sum of money for what was already public land and the income point is important as there is uncertainty medium term about their ability to fund ongoing maintenance of that land (this is one reason the BMC prefers the National Trust model which requires an upfront endowment to fund future costs). There was also some decidedly odd stuff going on around the bidding process. Our access volunteers are the best informed on the details (some of which are not public) and are very hard working and trustworthy. If they say we need to be careful with Stanage I believe them.
The endowment model has caught a lot of charitable bodies, the NT included, on the hop. Low investment returns make endowments prohibitively expensive and increasingly unattractive to organisations who aren't the NT. Calculations I did on endowment requirements for site management in the '90s (which were, I thought very pessimistic at the time) have had to be ripped up and redone in the light of the current rates of return.
I'm not for a moment saying that the Park don't need close scrutiny, but I don't think this degree of paranoia is justified.
I don't agree with that assessment. I think SWT paid over the odds for the Roaches because they were in competition with a strong bid from the NT. That's a terrible precedent to set in, as you say, difficult times, and when other estates are being lined up for by disposal - and that's a view shared by the DWT I believe. I think conservation NGO's should be standing together on this, as they pledged to do on the forests.
The other concern is, as you said, that they bought the Roaches for nature conservation. The park originally acquired the estate for recreation first and conservation second. I think, in the context of Peak moorlands, those priorities remain valid, but their tender (in contrast to the NT) was rather thin on recreation.
As I said, I am hopeful about the future of the SWT's management of the Roaches, but I don't think we got there in the right way.
There is no secret agenda stuff or paranoia (other than in your head) just the reality of access work in these hard pressed times. Reps work with confidential information all the time. The 'secrets' are always driven by the landowner or the public body... as a simple example a lot of the bidding process is confidential (is this secret agenda stuff too?... I know of one individual Freedom of Information request that was made for information following the Roaches bidding process; this was rejected on the grounds of commercial confidence).
Having got to know the access reps personally from turning up to BMC peak area meetings for the last decade and from my detailed guidebook work I'm completely happy trusting them based on what I know and what they do (especially compared to what they said they would do). This is in big contrast to some running our public bodies (as a active but moderate trade unionist it's not just climbing politics I'm involved in). Its all to easy to snipe at these people from a computer at home based on the paucity of public information on view.
I really fail to see what endowment income returns has to do with this. Its hardly as if charities are not aware of the problems and any gap gets funded from their other income sources. Are you saying no endowment is better than an endowment?
As for forests, it was quite interesting what was being said in public and planned for in private (though I don't want to play the "secret knowledege" card myself). I think it's common knowledge that pretty much every group had a wishlist if the privatisation had gone ahead, but then that was a very different circumstance, and I don't think the Peak Park and the FC are strictly comparable (though in both cases there was an argument that the regulator shouldn't also be a practitioner).
As to the conservation vs recreation arguments, that isn't one I'd touch with a bargepole - it's horrible and complicated and both sides are right ;)
> I really fail to see what endowment income returns has to do with this. Its hardly as if charities are not aware of the problems and any gap gets funded from their other income sources. Are you saying no endowment is better than an endowment?
Pretty much. It would have been a different situation if an endowment was being offered as part of a management agreement or a bequest, but as it is you are asking a group to sequester a very substantial amount of money (over and above the reserves required by the charity commission) that could be more productively used elsewhere.
As to the secrecy, it's a done deal now - you alluded (and perhaps I'm just misinterpreting you) to irregularities in the bidding process. These should be made public. Having worked on complex reserve acquisitions for a living in the past, I appreciate probably better than you how complex the process is, and whilst I can understand concerns about precedent, there's a difference between not getting your preferred outcome and insinuating foul play.
I really don't get that you could think that no endowment is better. Who pays for the future running costs where there are no clear income sources (or by 'endowments' do you mean a specific financial vehicle for running them and its better to put the money into the bank).
I havn't got the faintest idea what you think that I think (or other BMC volunteers think) has happened. I just want you to stop accusing good folk of being paranoid without knowing them. To be clear on two other points the SWT bid wasn't opposed by the BMC (just the opposite) and its you putting motives into others mouths again when you propose "insinuating foul play".
If you think the bidding process should be more public I wholeheatedly agree with that but the Peak Park and the bidders clearly disagree.
Bottom line, paying money to secure land for public use from the sale of public assets is a very bad situation to be in.
Apologies if I have misunderstood this. I've interpreted "decidedly odd stuff" as an allusion to underhand activity. If you'd define "odd stuff" then I could be reassured you meant no slight against the bidders.
Having ploughed through the original documents John was referring to, I still think the tone of the original article is too alarmist. If you think I've gone further than that, then perhaps something is lost between my typing and your reading- always the way of the internet.
Not me ! I never voted for any of them ! Bring on the revolution !
"I still think the tone of the original article is too alarmist." then
"but I don't think this degree of paranoia is justified."
'pot-kettle-black' comes to mind with your rather 'alarmist' response to valid concerns... and all from just reading the documents (with the problems with their content that John pointed out) rather than being actively involved. Of course maybe your definition of paranoia is cute and cuddly but we are talking about good intelligent people with good judgement and a long proven track record, in my view, working hard for free for the climbing community.
For. Pity's. Sake.
Nobody is having a pop at all the good work done by BMC volunteers. Certainly not me, it's why I pay my subs every year.
But if you publish an opinion piece on a news website, not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions you do. If I'm going to have a go at anything it's this ridiculous holier than thou attitude of yours.
> Not me ! I never voted for any of them ! Bring on the revolution !
I'm with you comrade!
Blimey, you need to get out more if you don't recognise that report as a classic example of wank-word-bingo....
"If I'm going to have a go at anything it's this ridiculous holier than thou attitude of yours."
Pot-kettle-black again. I object to your uninformed portrayal of what I regard as a very natural response of these good folk as 'paranoia'. Just my opinion, if you will post on a website you can't expect everyone to agree with you ;-)
Think you need to be careful about raising the spectre of parking charges
Sorry, but the whole "war on the motorist" thing has replaced patriotism as the last refuge of the scoundrel
Would it really be so terrible if all parking at Stanage was chargeable ? And the restrictions enforced? Maybe then people would actually park in the proper places and not on the verges. Climbers have to realise that they don't have a divine right to park wherever they want, and that charging is the best way to control a finite supply. It's not a tax on climbing, it's a tax on using a car.
Now of course I would rather that money went straight back into managing the estate, and I'm very impressed with the plans the NT/RSPB has for the Eastern Moor, so obviously I'd be quite happy if they took over managing Stanage.
But I'm still not entirely happy with the National Park selling its land at all, so maybe a re-think is not such a bad thing. Particulary if there is a risk that they might sell to someone other than the NT.
Particulary if, as might be the case, that they might sell to anyone but the NT........
The Main point being swept under the mat here is that a very thoughfull kind man (General Sir Hugh Beach) gifted Stanage to the Nation to secure its future for all of us to enjoy and yet now we are selling it to the highest bidder !!!
He is now 88 year's old and if i were him i would be livid ! We should all be ashamed of ourselves!
Sorry to drag it back to the parking thing..
I see your point here, but yes - I do think it would be at least a little bit terrible. Charging (more) for parking would tend to encourage more people to park on the verges wouldn't it? Its already common (and quite annoying) to see folk parking on the verges around the toilet block and opposite the Plantation car park when there's plenty of space inside it.
Preventing that would probably call for lots of signage, yellow lines, more enforcement etc.. I'm not playing the "poor, persecuted motorist" here - I'm concerned about how that would change the whole feel of the place.
I also worry a little bit about the effect on people's attitude if there was a significant charge for the parking. I suspect it would, on some level, erode people's feeling of 'shared ownership' and perhaps tend to replace that with the feeling that its a commodity to be bought and sold. That would tend to increase littering, for example, but more importantly for me I think it would take away some of the magic of what is still (remarkably, given how busy it is) really quite a magical place.
Does that make sense or am I just being an old hippy here?
The disgrace would be for the PDNPA, having being gifted this national treasure, to allow the issue of revenue to influence, even dictate, how the land is managed, and by whom. The decision about whether to keep hold of it, or to sell/lease it either to the National Trust, or a Wildlife Trust should be open, accountable and have nothing to do with money.
Misreading me there Chris. I've no problem with charging for parking per se, especially as I rarely drive to the crag! My beef, which I obviously haven't made clear enough if you've missed it, is that the PDNPA are showing worrying signs of forgetting their primary function. Income generation is the primary focus of all there pronouncements about North Lees at the moment and I'd rather see a bit more empahsis on the sacred two - conservation and recreation.
Shit, let's cut to the chase. Most of all, this is about letting the Peak Park know that we're watching their every move. They have form when it comes to being underhand. If Henry Folkard hadn't called them to account about their original private discussions with the RSPB over the disposal of the Eastern Moors we wouldn't have the current entirely preferable management arrangement. Sometimes examining the minutiae is utterly pointless, all you can do is run on gut instinct that there's dirty work afoot. So, if the peak Park has the best interests of North Lees at heart, I'll apologise in advance. If however, they're in the process of pulling a fast one, I'd rather get my retaliation in first!
Excellent point Ste....
If that's hippy talk, I'm listening DS! The last time they tried to introduce compulsory charges, what you're suggesting is exactly what happened - signs, bollards, parking on the verges, chaos.
What the Park should really be doing is publicising the fact that the current charges are entirely voluntary and are used to fund work on the estate so that drivers don't park their horseless carriages on the verges! If more people knew they could pay whatever they fancied, I'd wager the receipts would go up not down!
I'm with you on the parking charges. The honesty box at Hook's Car is well-nigh invisible, and I have pointed it out to folk before who have asked me whether there's a charge to park. I don't begrudge a bit of brass to provide the parking, toilets &c. and to minimise damage. I wish I spent as little on Diesel to get there :-)
Its an interesting thought.
As I understand it the charges aren't voluntary as such, they became enforceable some years ago. Its just never been worth the PDNPA's while to actually enforce them (which obviously has its costs) because 80-90% of people pay anyway.
Would the puddings who wedge their cars up on the verge opposite the half-empty Plantation car park go inside and chuck a quid or two in the machine if they knew they don't necessarily have to pay the full whack if they don't want to? Maybe you're right.
Though it is a fair point above about climbers being a stingy bunch. ;O)
The news report states "Equally suspicious is the way the Stanage Forum has been sidelined"
After having read THE PROCESS AND TIMETABLE FOR ASSESSING DISPOSAL OPTIONS FOR NORTH LEES / STANAGE ESTATE UNDER THE ASSET MANAGEMENT REVIEW I think its fair to point out the following paragraphs in the report
The Estate Management Plan was developed co-operatively with the Stanage Forum in 2002. The Stanage Forum is a model for public participation led by the Authority which includes representation from a wide range of parties with interests in managing the estate. It is anticipated that forum members will wish to be involved in the disposal process, within the constraints of the statutory regulations under which the Authority operates.
The process will include consultation with key stakeholders including but not limited to county, unitary, district, and parish councils, the local access forum and the Stanage Forum during the process. This involvement will focus on the consideration of options available to the Authority in meeting the objectives of the agreed Estate Management Plan. It will necessarily not go into detailed financial or personnel related aspects of the project.
I am sure we will all draw our own differing conclusions from those two paragraphs.
For me I am not sure that the tone of the news report was totally fair but important all the same for bringing the matter to our attention. I for one will be watching the process like a hawk as will lots of others on here.
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