/ Harrison’s Rocks - BMC position & update
The BMC has owned Harrison’s Rocks (i.e. the cliff faces) and a parcel of surrounding woodland since 2007. The car park and toilet block is owned by the Forestry Commission (FC), has been leased to Sport England for at least the last 25 years and is managed by the BMC under a formal management agreement with Sport England. The lease expires in November 2014 and Sport England does not intend to renew it; responsibility for the site will revert to the FC at that stage.
The BMC (via Access Officer - Rob Dyer and members of the Harrison’s Rocks Management Group, HRMG) has been in discussion with Sport England and the FC on the future of the site for the past 2-3 years. Our starting point has always been that the car park is a vital facility for climbers and that we would also like the toilet block to remain open as this is an important facility for visitors and campsite users. Sport England is sympathetic to our position and is prepared to fund repairs to the toilet block – but only if the FC (or an associated body) is prepared to take on the long term management of the facility.
Due to the current economic climate the FC has unfortunately informed us it is unable to keep the toilet block going when the lease expires. As a result it intends to demolish the toilet block and remove the campsite. The FC also plans to modify the car park to make is easier to maintain; whilst the overall size of the car park would be reduced the FC considers that total number of parking spaces could be retained. Sport England has said it would be prepared for its funding to be used for car park (as opposed to the toilet block) if a future for the toilet block cannot be secured.
One option which is under consideration at present is a possible community asset transfer (i.e. an arrangement through which land or buildings is transferred into the ownership or management of a Voluntary and Community Sector organisation or statutory body). This has been suggested by local resident Richard Fox and a meeting between the Forestry Commission, Sport England, Withyham Parish Council and the BMC / HRMG is taking place on 4 November to consider it in more detail. If this is successful Sport England has said it would be prepared to carry out full repair work on the toilet block.
The BMC very much appreciates that Harrison's hold a special place in the hearts of climbers and we can assure people we will do whatever we can to encourage the authorities to look positively on measures to secure the long term future of the car park, toilet block and camp site at crag.
Thanks for the update Dave, that gives a very clear overview of the situation.
Hopefully we'll know more after the meeting on the 4th.
Thank you for the update.
Have Sport England given any reason for not intending to renew the Lease in November 2014?
(Sorry - my previous post went before I finished)
I can see that it's a mess, but whatever happens, destruction of the toilet block would be a backward step. Surely it can't be beyond the combined goodwill of the BMC, Sport England and FC to find a workable solution? After all aren't all those involved ultimately concerned with promoting a healthy outdoor life for the community rather than bickering amongst themselves, at least that's how it appears to me?
But Sport England have been granted twice as much as ever before to the BMC (£3m per year)so that the BMC can determine how the sport develops.
Why has the BMC screwed over what climbers in the south east? No communication, no consultation? just clandestine meetings and surveys then bring in the bulldozers!!!
Come on - Sort this out Dave.
Sign the petition as well!
(Just in case you haven't seen the other thread ;)
Generally speaking Sport England is all about promoting mass participation; they do also have a facilities programme which runs national centres (such as Plas y Brenin), and Harrison's used to receive funding under this header (via PyB) but this changed approx 10-12 yrs ago.
Well can we have the BMCs help in getting them to change this back? If climbing at Harrison's isn't "mass participation" god knows what is.
What a clanger!
You say in your UKC post (link below) that the BMC position has been “Our starting point has always been that the car park is a vital facility for climbers and that we would also like the toilet block to remain open as this is an important facility for visitors and campsite users”
I am sorry but the complete reverse has happened. The Toilet Block has been closed 18 months before it needed to be and the BMC has caved in to the Sport England/Forestry Commission’s complete nonsense that the only way forward is to bulldoze the Toilet Block and reduce the size of the car park.
You should get on your bike from Manchester and represent the BMC at the meeting on Monday and be forthright in getting the block opened again within a week and forging a solution for its long term operation and bigger parking facilities.
Read the report below and let’s see a bit of grit.
Note that UKC restricts the length of these posts so I was unable to post the Harrison’s Toilet Block Working Group Report.
If you want a copy then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have sent it to UKC and asked them to put it on their website
Whatever you believe the situation to be, I would urge you to take a fresh approach with the Forestry Commission and Sport England the petition
is still growing and most of the signatures are climbers who pay BMC subs.
You are the figurehead of the national representative body representing climbers interest and should have been actively campaigning to save this great amenity.
Re reading minutes of meetings and your note above I can't see what you or the BMC have done on this issue except roll-over. We can have apps and BMC TV streaming channels, but what about amenity for the largest number of BMC members in the country?
Anyone else got a view on this?
> Anyone else got a view on this?
Yes - it's not really climbing, is it?
It's just another example of how we seem less capable of doing things properly than we were about 30 years ago. If we could do it then, why not now, when we're actually a lot more affluent? Selfish greed, I fear, is the answer.
> Yes - it's not really climbing, is it?
No, but the campsite is an important part of the experience. To just roll over and let that go seems so opposite to the ethos of what I thought climbing was all about
I've happily given up my free time to help lug logs and tree trunks about with the SVG to ensure that the base of the crag does not get further eroded and that it remains there for my kids to enjoy. To think the national body is prepared to allow some useful infrastructure turn onto a car park seems a bit of a poor show.
Please BMC, put up a fight!
Yes, that campsite is really important. Those who have not lived in central London or SE will probably not appreciate that. And it was perfectly sited too, out of harm's way. It must not go.
Dave Turnbull is an employee of the BMC (the CEO in fact). The "figurehead" is someone else called the president.
> Hi Dave
> You say in your UKC post (link below) that the BMC position has been “Our starting point has always been that the car park is a vital facility for climbers and that we would also like the toilet block to remain open as this is an important facility for visitors and campsite users”
> I am sorry but the complete reverse has happened. The Toilet Block has been closed 18 months before it needed to be and the BMC has caved in to the Sport England/Forestry Commission’s complete nonsense that the only way forward is to bulldoze the Toilet Block and reduce the size of the car park.
Agree with you 100% Malcolm. It's been very frustrating over the last few years attending Sandstone Open Meetings and SVG meetings and events, seeing all the grass-roots enthusiasm and willingness to put in time and energy to maintain and improve the local crags and then seeing the apparent impotence of our supposed representative body in the face of Sport England and the FC.
I was defending the BMC early on in the "petition" thread but having seen the input above (late, anodyne and not very informative) I'm really not sure that I can any more. HRMG does excellent work, but above that level I'm wondering what I pay my subs for!
Interesting that in the "South Down Climbers" update recently there was an extract from the FC talking about the "survey they'd done" on the block, but that the response from climbers was that when local activists had gained access for their own qualified surveyor to look at the place he'd seen no evidence at all that a survey had already been carried out...HE found it necessary to remove some panels etc to look "behind the scenes" at the damage and on doing so found that no-one had apparently removed them before, calling into question what sort of survey the FC could have possibly done!
It's all beginning to look like a behind-the-scenes stitch-up with the feelings, wishes and huge amount of voluntary expertise available from willing locals just being ignored. If this isn't resolved satisfactorily I for one won't be re-subscribing to the BMC next year.
You post on the internet what you imagine your relatives think?
Have you signed the petition yet? Would you like a civilised dump?
> Have you signed the petition yet? Would you like a civilised dump?
"If you've ever used the facilities at Harrison's rocks you'll want to sign the online petition link below."
I´ve never been to Harrison´s and have no intention of ever going there, driving a 1,000 miles to go to the toilet strikes me as a strange idea.
Southern Sandstone is all we've got here in the SE, so, if you haven't done so already, showing your support by signing as a fellow climber would be very much appreciated before we all sink into the mire...... :(
Same here Al. I find the whole attitude of the BMC limp and ineffectual over this issue. It's almost like they don't give a toss about it.
Well this is turning into a very interesting thread....
The only other point I have to make is that the £3million grant from SE seems to be being talked about quite a bit. This is definitely not my areas of expertise, however what I can say is that that sum is spread over 4 years and has been given to the BMC by SE to be used on very specific projects that fulfil their objectives as an organisation, rather than for use on anything we see fit.
I'm about to go into a meeting now and will be heading down to the toilet block meeting from Manchester early Monday morning. This will be followed by another two days of meetings out of the office at opposite ends of the country, so I'll stuggle to respond again until later next week. I assure you we're doing everything we can and I'll update you as soon as I'm back in the office.
BMC Access & Conservation Officer
Thanks for this Rob. There will be over 1,000 signatures on the petition by Monday- many, many of them BMC members. I'll accept the point about the £3m if you accept that the BMC can bid for what ever it wants from Sport England.
London and South East clearly feel that the BMC has let us down by not bidding for SE to retain the lease and not bidding for the funds to continue managing the amenity.
At the point of writing 900 climbers are saying that the BMC has made a strategic mistake by not continuing to back this particular horse. Do you (the BMC) have the spine to recover the situation for climbers down here, or are you looking for easy solutions on Monday ?
And isn't this much of the problem? The organisations concerned are playing their cards too close to their chests and not being transparent.
As a non-driving londoner the campsite has made sandstone climbing weekends possible for the last fifteen years.
Seeing one of the best campsites I've ever stayed at (amazing badger sets, forest pitches, bluebells in spring and good craic round the communal fire) disappear in favour of more car parking is ridiculous and a shot in the foot for climbing in the south east.
Hope the 4th November meeting goes well- hopefully responsibility for the whole site (not just the bloody car park) can be transferred to someone who might do a bit better at protecting a unique resource for climbers.
If the BMC roll over without a fight on this then I will not be renewing my membership - this is on a par with fighting for access rights and one of the main reasons that I pay my subs. If you're not fighting for me then I see no reason to continue supporting you.
How will all of you that are threatening reneging your memberships ensure access in future?
> How will all of you that are threatening reneging your memberships ensure access in future?
Good luck, given that trespass laws, right to roam and the BMC have evolved since then, activist methods probably should too.
I think you are making a tactical mistake by claiming it only to be a SE climbers issue, I'm a Sheffield /Peak lad born and bred, but I lived for a while in the SE and enjoyed sandstone as it was the nearest rock, I can therefore have sympathy for your cause (Jim Titt take note) but I would equally support a position against scrapping a facility for Stanage, Bowderstone or Dunkeld. Please stop making the issue one only applicable to the SE.
> Good luck, given that trespass laws, right to roam and the BMC have evolved since then, activist methods probably should too.
But only if the BMC continues to fight our corner, there are numerous crags e.g Craig Y Forwyn, where BMC members have been urged not to take action and the result of being obedient and waiting for the BMC has acheived absolutely nothing. If the BMC had been in control at the time of the mass trespasses instead of the country's socialists we may still not have access to Kinder ,Bleaklow and Stanage yet. I'm sorry John but this is true and if the BMC wants climbers to keep paying into membership then the BMC needs to get back to what it was formed for and why we all joined.
Anyway even if I cancel my membership I will still have a voice via my club membership, the CC.
> Anyway even if I cancel my membership I will still have a voice via my club membership, the CC.
And UKC!! :)
To support the BMC in not supporting climbers with this issue is like a turkey paying for christmas.
You have left your union, and your political party and look at where that has left your views - without organisation. Voting with your collectivist feet has turned your collectivism into a marketplace for your view, but you will no longer have anywhere to buy. If you want to vote with your feet, organise the alternative, and make damn sure it works better, or else stick with it as a your monopoly body, get involved, and influence it from the inside.
Al raises Craig Y Forwyn above, if a mass trespass had taken place there, there probably would be zero access, which is worse than the access gained by restraint and careful negotiation. 80 years ago, tactics like that worked, and if the BMC hadn't been formed (nearly 70 years ago) and been supported by people like you Al the CROW act would never have been ultimately passed and helped everyone retain that right to the c. 1Mill hectares that socialists initially fought for and were eventually won by a large apolitical lobby. The BMC is not a socialist lobby, it works for climbers and we climbers have a responsibility to back it and influence it or we face the fragmentation that has atomised many trades and professions into lack of solid representation. More can always be done, but battles are well picked. The BMCs battles are mostly far better played than the ones I deal with every single day in the teaching profession.
I hope for the right outcome for climbers in the Harrison's situation, but we climbers have a responsibility to make sure we pay for parking, pay for camping (Harrison's, Stanage and elsewhere) and pay our BMC dues but also to make sure our views heard inside and outside our representative body, or we're a fragmented mess who's no longer taken seriously by any funder, backer or landowner.
"... I hope for the right outcome for climbers in the Harrison's situation, but we climbers have a responsibility to make sure we pay for parking, pay for camping (Harrison's, Stanage and elsewhere) and pay our BMC dues but also to make sure our views heard inside and outside our representative body, or we're a fragmented mess who's no longer taken seriously by any funder, backer or landowner."
Yes, I do hope all of those who have criticised have paid their parking fees for every visit, however short, and particularly will continue to do so when we get this facility re-opened.
> If the BMC roll over without a fight on this then I will not be renewing my membership - this is on a par with fighting for access rights and one of the main reasons that I pay my subs. If you're not fighting for me then I see no reason to continue supporting you.
Can't understand why you guys are threatening to leave the BMC ? It's clear from the posts by Dave and Rob that the BMC are fighting this and trying to negotiate a suitable outcome. It's also clear that negotiations are going to be difficult and probably best left to the BMC - least noise equals most success.
However depriving the BMC of your income, and reducing the number of people they claim to represent, is counter-productive
The point is (and you have to understand the detail) that the BMC has NOT done very much at all to secure this resource for climbers. Being nice chaps doesn't equate to getting it right all the time and something had gone quite wrong here.
The politicking that we pay our subs to get officers of the BMC to do has amounted to - 'well our buddies at Sport England don't want it any more, the forestry commission want to bull doze it- we don't do car parks, camp sites and loos, it's too far south and not sexy enough, so we'll just roll over and play dead while our chums fill up the skips'.
Some members expect more.
"leave it to the BMC" ?????
The fact that a dog walker took up the cause and a 1000 climbers signed a petition, is probably going to save the BMC from itself.
What we need to hear from Dave is something along the lines of "We're really with you people, and your cause, we'll go back to Sport England and tell them how much this means to climbers and put in a bid to gain additional funding to keep it open for a future generation of climbing Olympians ".
£60,000? Maybe he needs to get back from holiday and get to the meeting on Monday.
> £60,000? Maybe he needs to get back from holiday and get to the meeting on Monday.
That's exactly what I have been thinking. I don't know when this meeting was planned and everyone is entitled to a holiday, but if the BMC is really as concerned about this issue as it is claiming it seems very surprising that it sanctioned it's CEO to be on leave at the time of a meeting which is so crucial to it's members in the South East .
It does make me wonder just how seriously the BMC had been taking the toilet block situation until now?
You miserable sods, let the man have a rest. Threatening to throw your toys out of the pram is childish: adults only needed to say this is the sort of thing they expect the BMC to do and maintain pressure on that front. Also claiming those 1000 signatories think the BMC has failed and they are about to leave the organisation is deluded: the vast majority signed to help force progress on the toilet block, not to bloody Dave's nose (even if some do think the organisation maybe could have done better). Anyway, I'm sure they have got the message now.
My comment wasn't aimed at Dave personally but at the appalling way the BMC has been handling this situation
I'd take someone taking pot shots at my leave pretty personally; very emotive that word appalling: all I see is an ongoing negotiation where they could have done better.
and will leave when you start selling tea towels and leather book marks in your visitor centres so come on lets see some serious arse kicking on behalf of your membership!
As I said I don't know when the meeting was arranged, but appears to me that the saving of this toilet block held such a low priority to the BMC that it didn't consider it even warranted attendance at the meeting by it's CEO. If it's CEO had already booked a holiday then why didn't the BMC arrange another date when he could attend?
This is the whole problem, until recently it appears that the BMC has regarded this as a minor local issue which wasn't worth spending time or money on. The toilet block has been closed for months now but we've heard very little, if anything, from the BMC about what it was doing about the situation.
The truth might be that the BMC is invited to the meeting, called by the parish council, not facilitating it. This indicates how far off the pace the BMC is.
So we agree now do we that it was personal and 'appalling' was un-called for? One reason on the CEO front might be that you let the designated officers negotiate until you reach an impasse then you call in the CEO. I see no evidence they regarded it as little or minor. More that there are many important issues calling for BMC time and maybe they should have placed more priority on this one.
I've already said it wasn't personal but aimed at the BMC, and explained why. I prefer to keep the word appalling because of the way the BMC has allowed the situation to arise, and for failing to keep the membership informed, rather than just closing the toilet block without comment and consequently the camp site. I agree with your final statement, but as a SE climber suggest that your final comment is an understatement.
Ultimately, however it does appear that we are in broad agreement, we just differ on the degree.
" '.....Maybe he needs to get back from holiday and get to the meeting on Monday'.
That's exactly what I have been thinking...." IS personal (although maybe you didn't intend this to be as literal?)
You are right. It was a bad choice of words for which I apologise to Dave.
My thrust was aimed at the BMC as I subsequently explained.
> I see is an ongoing negotiation where they could have done better.
Let's all agree to that then.
They do brilliant work but not in this case. Eye off the ball- out of touch with what members feel
Getting very close to 1,000 people are saying " let's get those facilities working again"
At the time of writing 1,071 have signed the petition and that's quite a collective and quite a protest for the BMC and Sports Council to deal with.
What is interesting is where the signatures come from.
Harrison's rocks and the amenities which is what the petition is about are a REGIONAL ASSET encouraging MASS PARTICIPATION.
This then is what has been lost sight of so far and this is why Sport England and the BMC need to get a grip and recover the situation urgently.
At the meeting tomorrow, which our representative body has been invited to by Groombridge Council, the BMC has had to complete a 'capture' saying what it would like by way of an outcome. I strongly believe the BMC (that's us, all of us) should be saying we want this for climbers (who it was originally built for) and we want to run it and manage it effectively using Sport England funding.
and in the few minutes it's taken me to write that, the signatures have risen to 1,077
Running public toilets costs a substantial amount of money. Sport England and the Forestry Commission are not the only public sector organisations who feel that their limited funds could much better spent elsewhere:
40% drop in the number of public toilets across the UK in the last 10 years - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23753323
Plans are revealed to close seven of Pembrokeshire's 93 public toilets in a bid to cut costs - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-24046841
Bath council is forced into a U-turn over its plans to offload half its public toilets in a bid to save £120000 - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-24074599
Nearly 40 council-owned public toilets in Powys could close if businesses or community organisations fail to step in to run them - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-2352972
All public toilets in Herefordshire will be closed as part of the council's budget cuts - http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-22569514
From just these articles it is clear that you are looking at something between £5,000-£25,000 to run a public toilet. Once you include daily cleaning, consumables, water/sewage costs, electricity, waste disposal and all aspects of building and grounds maintenance including dealing with vandalism through to longer term repairs it rapidly adds up. I can also easily imagine that the costs with rural locations are higher than in urban locations.
Short of the BMC itself stumping up perhaps £10,000+ per year I am really not sure how some people expect the BMC, especially the hierarchy in Manchester, to magically resolve this. Just because having a public toilet there is imminently desirable does not automatically make it practicable or economically sensible.
As a BMC member I would be against the BMC spending a chunk of its limited money running a public toilet at a crag. If other posters believe that the BMC should directly fund the toilets they should come out and say so. If not, then they need to come up with constructive suggestions rather than sniping from the sidelines.
Signing petitions is great but it doesn't generate a penny towards the running costs of the toilets next year, let along for subsequent years.
Please sign the petition and read what people say in the comments section.
Please visit the crag and begin to understand the issues.
This is not BMC money- though I think if it were, it would be subs well spent in terms of BMC objectives-This is Sports Council Money which has been for decades aimed at encouraging mass participation in sport supporting access to the great outdoors for the largest number of BMC members in the country (London and the South East) and the largest density of youth groups being introduced to climbing in the country. Your hyperlinking skills do not help a jot except to underline the one size fits all mentality of the Manchester Mafia.
If you would kindly read the debate, there is twice as much money in the pot than ever before. The issue is how the Sport England money is being spent.
Further more 'constructive attitudes' abound at meetings and in forums. The frustration is a remote BMC which has not represented its members nor fought their corner.
I think it naïve of you to make a series of comparisons with public toilets, but then that's just what we're up against, people that don't know = people who don't care. Please do visit this excellent spot, then post.
And you can come and hold his rope!
I thought the ex-engineers post was pretty good. It shows these issues are not as simple as they can sometimes seem. Who's sport england money are you spending here: theirs or the BMC's allocated cut?
Your not helping your case with all this pejoritive meanless like "Manchester mafia". At least Trangia had the good grace to apologise for implying Dave should deal with this rather than take his annual leave.
If there was a policy decision to do this from the BMC, then lets hear about it and have been some consultation from those Manchester chappies.
A further point needing to be made for people not understanding the regional importance of the place as a site of mass participation in outdoor sport, is to point out that revenue from the camp site (which is closed because the toilets are out of action) is used by the BMC to make grants which assits female mountaineers and disabled climbers or mountaineers, both male and female, to achieve their climbing or mountaineering ambitions= the Julie Tullis Memorial Award.
So take away the toilets and the campsite closes, then grants to female and disabled mountaineers stop, and thousands of climbers and youth groups crap in the woods, are disgusted by the state of things and decide not to further participate in the sport and all this in an area classified as an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty a few hundred yards from a village ?
Its fairly clear people with less than positive attitudes towards the saving of the amenities dont know the site and dont get the issues.
The lack of outdoor rock in the South East makes this an absolutely critical issue for climbers down here. It's not a 'public toilet' we're fighting for and folks writing on this thread making that suggestion need to balance their views against the 1,100 who do understand the regional significance of the place and who have signed the petition to save it.
This may be a very dumb suggestion, but:
Can't car-park fees and camp-site fees be set at a level to cover the running costs of the toilet block? Afterall, that's the sort of thing that camp-site fees and car-park fees generally cover.
In fact a business plan written by a local resident being handed to the meeting with Sport England this morning predicts that between 35- 50 % could be raised in this way, so we're not asking much but the BMC will need to manage this effectively- as well as developing iphone apps.
I never understood the thinking behind the request for "voluntary" contributions for parking with a "suggested" amount for cars and for mini buses? I suspect there are legal implications with regard to the land owner's liability between making a charge and asking for a voluntary contribution, but it seems ludicrous and encouraged a lot of people, walkers and climbers included, to flout the goodwill system and avoid paying. All those people who used to cheat like this know who you are and should be ashamed, as it is one of the reasons, but not the only one, why we are in this situation now.
I hope that if the toilet block can be salvaged that a proper fair and workable parking charge (not "voluntary contribution"), to be ploughed back in towards the running costs can be found. The same comment applies to camp site fees.
> morning predicts that between 35- 50 % could be raised in this way, ...
Why only 35-50%? There are car parks across the country charging £4 a visit, and this is accepted as reasonable. I'd only be guessing at the number of cars per year, but this is the most popular crag in the South East, and the only east day-trip from London, so I'd be surprised if this couldn't be made into a cost-neutral concern that didn't need subsidising by anyone.
I fully see the need for this facility (I lived in Surrey for 6 years and went to Harrison's a lot), but don't see what is wrong with those who benefit from it paying for it through parking charges and campsite fees.
I tend to agree.
I think that there would be a number of (not insurmountable) planning issues to work through to make it P2P.
The situation is so bad currently that the track in the 'one way system' has been allowed to disintergrate (Remember that BMC Manage on behalf of Sport England who lease from Forestry commission) that no one actually drives past the 'voluntary' contribution box, which is hardly signed anyway. The whole thing smacks of 'let it go'.
So why not be clearer up front and stop damaging your case by being rude.
This has been a fantastic thread and the great news is that the objectives of the petition "to immediately get the amenities working again " has been agreed by Sport England at a meeting today.
Apparently, SE had no idea "how important the facility is" to climbers in London and south east. I remain convinced that the BMC should have lobbied Sport England to that affect, and would implore the BMC to step up to the plate now and become interested in securing the long term future of this asset for the current and future generations of climbers in the south east.
That's really good news, but you are right it's now up to us, the climbing community, to urge and support the BMC in maintaining this facility.
A copy of the petition, with at that stage 1,100 signatures and directed to Sport England was given to Rob Dyer ( BMC Access and conservation) with a request that the situation be reviewed by the BMC Executive committee.
My personal hope being that the BMC will find the will to want to take on the lease and manage the amenities effectively.
So sounds like good news, now to get it working.
As we all know 'policing' the car parking fees is difficult, and I'd guess even more might avoid paying if the fees are increased. I guess one option may be an annual ticket.
How about a small levy on each client of all commercial groups using the rocks and facilities, with a discount for those clients who are BMC members?
The one thing that wouldn't be right is it having anything to do with BMC subs.
"Apparently, x had no idea "how important the facility is" to y"
.....wish I had a pound for everytime I've heard that from an organisation trying to manage bad news in public. Maybe enough for me to buy the site and bequeath it.
Summary of current situation by BMC access officer Rob Dyer:
> I tend to agree.
> I think that there would be a number of (not insurmountable) planning issues to work through to make it P2P.
In reply to BMC Office:
So there is going to be 'significant investment' in a building that may well have no long-term future?
Does this sound like a good idea?
For what it's worth if I can offer any time or to a not significant enough extent Money to help with the setting up/running of a trust/cooperative or something I will gladly give it.
This is the right idea, the BMC can hopefully assist in facilitating this with FC and SE. Community Asset Transfer can offer a sustainable solution, people getting all difficult with Dve Turnbull isn't going to help.
Google "Quirk Review".
In the link you say "This lease expires in November of next year and Sport England will not be renewing it".
Can BMC members please be informed of why this decision was taken by Sport England and see the detail of lobbying the BMC initiated on behalf of climbers in London and the South East for Sport England to renew the lease?
People just want to know what the F£$%'s been going on and why the BMC has been passive/ complicit in plans to demolish the facility. This is called accountability by the way.
Its not personal
> people getting all difficult with Dve Turnbull isn't going to help.
> People just want to know what the F£$%'s been going on and why the BMC has been passive/ complicit in plans to demolish the facility. This is called accountability by the way.
It appears to me that the BMC through the South East Area rep have helped to facilitate a situation were SE will fund repairs and FC with grant a 20 year lease to a community organisation to operate the toilets, camp site and car park. Sounds like a great situation to be in. I am sure the place can be made to wipe its own feet financially, especially given the lower costs of management a volunteer based organisation could provide. Use all your energy to make that happen, it seems they are already working with a least one person trying to make that happen. Don't just expect the BMC to run the facility.
I will repeat google "Quirk Review".
Don't just expect the BMC to run the facility.
Why not? They have the capacity to encourage participation in so many other ways? (apps, streaming video, climbing wall competitions and teams)
The point being made again and again is our BMC has been encoraging mass participation by runningthis facility (with Sport England money)for many years and its been a fantastic asset for climbers. Why the decision from the BMC not to pursue Sport England to renegotiate the lease, who decided on this policy shift?
"The BMC promotes the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers and the freedom to enjoy their activities."
There is no mention of encouraging participation (nor IMO should there be).
In fact I would say that encouraging participation would be acting against our interests.
> Answers please!
Possibly it has been difficult for the BMC to lobby with conviction about keeping the facility, when they hadn't arranged repairs to problems known for years. Also the minutes of the previous London/SE region meeting linked above do not give the impression they had their "finger on the pulse" ! of the situation.
> "The BMC promotes the interests of climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers and the freedom to enjoy their activities."
> There is no mention of encouraging participation (nor IMO should there be).
> In fact I would say that encouraging participation would be acting against our interests.
In my mind the BMC should almost entirely be involved only with maintaining (or obtaining) access to crags and maybe one or two sidelines such as ensuring that the equipment we use is suitable. However the BMC already goes further than this in such areas as competition climbing (and whilst I do disagree with this it hasn't led to me terminating my membership).
Whilst I do believe that the BMC should be supporting efforts to find a future for the toilet block (e.g. lobbying) they should not be the body to take on running it themselves.
Is there a BMC perspective on this other than "let's walk away from this mess"
"Its not personal" Trangia rather honorably said the point about Dave coming home from his hols to sort this was personal and apologised as he didn't mean to quote your post in that way: so will you apologise now? This may be the most important thing in the world for you and the BMC may have made a few mistakes but you seem to be pushing the situation well beyond its realistic position and possibly risking support as a result.
Let's just hope that the BMC comes home.
The BMC is already home. It tries to serve its members nationally and in that it makes the odd mistake like any similar organisation; it is not there to not jump to individual priorities. I signed the petition but I don't support some of your views posted here and hypothetically if it came to a choice between saving these toiltes vs saving access at a crag, the crag would win for me; I'm sure many others would feel the same way as me about their priorities in the BMC.
Why this hypothetical either/or? The toilet block issue has nothing whatever to do with any threat to access to Harrisons, and AFAIK, there is absolutely no threat to access to Harrisons whatever (because it happens to be owned now by the BMC)? The issue is about the toilet block and, indirectly, about the campsite that depends on it. The toilet block/campsite is, of course, near the edge of he village of Groombridge, a long way from the crag itself.
Read Dingbats threads. He wants the full focus of the BMC on this including wanting Dave to come home from his holiday.
As a Southerner, BMC member and Harrison's user I don't think the organisation's role should be to provide camping and toilets at crags. I've seen no coherent arguement presented as to why they should at Harrison's when no-one is clamoring for them to do so at Bwlch y Moch or Wilton. Signing an online petition is easy, paying for the renovation and upkeep of the camping and toilet less so. If the camping is so popular, then let a private operator take it over. If, as I suspect, the vast majority of visitors come for the day, then the camping and toilet is not necessary. If you were starting from scratch you could make a much better argument for the BMC providing a campsite at Portland. They wont of course and I don't think they should.
The toilet at Harrison's is a historical anomaly in the BMC portfolio of crags. I would rather the money was spent in securing access which may or may not include acquisition of further crags.
Lots of people seem to be asking about Harrisons toilet block. There seems to be no one source of information so here is my take on it. Please add information, but only if you are sure that that information is correct.
From talking with local climbers I have gathered that:
Sport England currently hold the lease to the car park.
Sport England don’t want to renew their lease. It expires in Nov 2014.
Sport England, under the terms of the lease, have to return the site (including the toilet block) in a good state (i.e. working toilet block and car park).
Sport England have said that they are willing to pump a substantial amount of cash into the toilet block on the condition that someone is there to look after it long term (the toilet block is currently dilapidated. Without the toilet block the campsite will have to be closed.).
The Forestry Commission own the car park and camp site.
The Forestry Commission don’t want to take on the day-to-day running of the site as they don’t have the budget / manpower for it.
The Forestry Commission won’t lease the site to a small charity / community interest company (1) just in case that entity gets into financial difficulties and (2) as the small charity / CIC won’t have sufficient financial resources should the worst case happen and someone had an accident at the site.
The Forestry Commission WILL, however, lease the site to an organisation like the BMC (who are big enough to absorb the ‘risk’ and be big enough not to fold should there be a catastrophic event).
The Forestry Commission WILL be content for the BMC to on-lease the facilities on to a local charity or community interest company.
There IS a group of local climbers who are incorporating a Community Interest Company in order to run the car park / campsite / toilet block.
This local group of climbers hope to make the car park / campsite self-sustaining (so running costs = camping fees / car park fees).
SO ALL THE BMC NEED TO DO IS STEP UP AND TAKE ON THE LEASE FOR THE CAR PARK / CAMPSITE / TOILETS TO CONTINUE TO EXIST POST NOV 2014. This is the only way that Sport England will spend money on a super-dooper toilet block that can serve climbers and campers for years to come.
The lease from the Forestry Commission is free – no cost to the BMC.
The car park / campsite will pay for itself (under the plans being put forward by the group of local climbers) – no cost to the BMC.
In summary- The climbing community is being given a re-vamped toilet block by Sport England ON A PLATTER! All we need is for the BMC to take the lease from the Forestry Commission and act as a ‘middle man’.
The Forestry Commission just want to see is a large organisation to take on the lease. Come on BMC – this is what you do surely!!?? At least assure us that all options have been exhausted (i.e. that this the plans of this local group of climbers aren’t financially viable).
And don’t we have a good example of this from up north? The Don Willams Hut is owned by the BMC, funding was provided by Sport England and it’s run locally!!
The problem lies not with Sport England / Forestry Commission (who are restrained by their mandates) but with our inability to think ourselves outside of this box. DO US PROUD BMC!
There is talk of the local parishcouncil 'solving the problem' by becoming the lessee. If the local parish council take this on (a) they will run out of money, and (b) they will not have the interests of climbers at heart. Once we lose this climber orientated space it'll be gone forever.
Ps. Sorry for the rant! It just is so excruciating to see a fabulous place used by so many fall to ruin for no good reason.
Agreed. In fact I'd rather see the money & effort being spent on attempting (as the landowner) to protect this crag from the problems of poor use.
> This local group of climbers hope to make the car park / campsite self-sustaining (so running costs = camping fees / car park fees).
Is there a solid business model from the CIC that shows this can work without supplement from BMC subs? What are the running costs calculated at? Can we all see the business plan?
This bit interests me, as a member of a club which has recently been on the receiving end of an apparently benign lease. If the lease the Forestry are offering is a full repair and maintenance lease, then beware. If regulations change the leaseholer is liable for compliance, and in our case this may have cost 80 grand and would have bankrupted the club. Only the fact that our membership included some very creative engineers and some very impressive negotiators saved he club.
So, from your stement I assume you know the details of this lease and are assuring us that this kind of thing COULD NOT happen because it isn't a full reparing lease, and therefore no risk to the BMC. I doubt it. I'd bet that it will NOT be free, it will need insuring, repair from vandalism, regular maintenance and contingency funding for unforseen work - it is a liability. It may be worth it, but it isn't free.
There's more to this stuff than meets the eye.
> Agreed. In fact I'd rather see the money & effort being spent on attempting (as the landowner) to protect this crag from the problems of poor use.
In fact there is a considerable sum of money currently set aside to protect the crag from the problems of erosion and misuse, apparently ring fenced by the BMC as the owner of the crag. Thumbs up here! Well done BMC.
The facilities have been paid for by Sport England (and for many years before that the sports council) today this is (taxpayers? ) Olympic legacy money. Aimed at encouraging mass participation and particularly young people to do sport. All national representative bodies ( such as the BMC) can apply for grant funding. In the past the BMC have acquired said funding to pay for running costs of this important facility. For some reason the BMC have decided to stop asking for sport Council support for Harrison's - perhaps because they are not doing a proper job managing the amenities on behalf of climbers in London and the south east or feel particularly under equipped to deal with such a complicated project (sic) on behalf of their biggest constituent group. ANYWAY this is happening at a time when the BMC have DOUBLED the size of the sport council grant for climbing and mountaineering.
So.... Please can people stop ranting about BMC money because it isn't. The BMC have never paid a penny towards the running of the facilities, but have historically involved themselves with the running of the amenity because of the importance to climbers. All that is being asked is that the BMC represent their biggest constituent group and a majority wish that the status quo be rebalanced. Why not?
I don't get why everyone isn't behind this and the 1,200 petitioners. If it somehow were going to affect an access right in a crag in mid wales, then I could see why someone might write to this forum with a counter argument. If climbers are so selfish that they do not want to share their crags with youth groups and special needs climbers then keep not understanding the detail and posting disingenuous comments.
In all these threads there is an absence of BMC comment. The simple reason is that they have screwed up at a policy level on not wanting to involve themselves in toilets and car parks. They can regain the high ground by getting centre stage in the long term future, securing climbers interest- if we climbers don't secure our interest in the future - we may never get another opportunity .
> So.... Please can people stop ranting about BMC money because it isn't.
Just a small point but who do you think pays Rob Dyer's wages. Sport England? The Forestry Commission?
And from what I can see the only person ranting is you. So calm down.
I honestly think that we can expect this support and interest from the BMC and ask that they give full support to climbers in London and the south east. The capacity of the BMC has never been higher in terms of the number of employees and finances at hand to deliver. It's about accountability and representation for me personally. It would be great if you came and visited
Oh and just to add Graeme that Yes, Sport England is contributing substantially to BMC Employment cost and Rob lives rent free in a banana republic called Didsbury. ;)
Can we get behind Rob rather than arguing who his paymaster is Graeme ? It must be very difficult seeing grass route support as it exists currently against paymasters position.
Can you answer this?
Is there a solid business model from the CIC that shows this can work without supplement from BMC subs? What are the running costs calculated at? Can we all see the business plan?
There has NEVER been a suggestion ( much as I'd personally support one) that BMC subs contribute to any solution. The BMC have historically drawn down Sport England ( and before that sports council) funding, but have not pursued effectively Sport England to continue support into a new lease. This then is the greatest disappointment for us wanting to see the site thrive.
In terms of 'plans' a considerable amount of work is going on behind the scenes: I believe it right that the people involved in the scheme's development negotiate directly with the stakeholders. There is a great deal of uncertainty about who the forestry commission is prepared to lease to, where CAPEX will come from, what the parish and wealdon council will agree to in terms of development that could (potentially) create cost neutrality. Until these things are pinned down any business model is fundamentally flawed. The whole thing is quite delicate.
It's such a pity we're in this position. The BMC could have courted SE years ago for the continuance of the current status quo, cost free to BMC members, a site of mass participation in sport, 1 hour from London, paid for through Olympic legacy funding from Sport England.
The lease is with Sport England and The BMC manages the site currently. This is the status quo which the BMC should be striving towards. There is still no statement from the BMC as to WHY on a policy level this is no longer acceptable to the BMC.
I can't remember the last time I wasn't at a BMC 'southern sandstone open meeting' and very little of what is contained in this thread was not discussed at the last one. I still haven't seen an agenda for Wednesdays meeting at the Alpine Club- does anyone know the link? I looked extensively on the BMC web site yesterday.
I will e-mail them thank you.
They've just tweeted that same link, saying it contains an agenda. I can't see it. I've just tweeted back, asking about it ...
An update on where things stand
Here is a link to a Forestry Commission consultation where you can 'vote' for the best proposal for running the toilet block and campsite from 2014.
If you added your name to the petition, you may like to have your say, add your vote and make comments
The BWF CIC option is the proposal being put forward by the local climbers
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