MPs are just fat cats in suits who have nothing to do with the everyday trail rider who enjoys getting out on the weekend on Green Roads. Really, is that all there is to it? The TRF doesn't think so and we want you to re-think your opinion of who has the most influence on the future of Green Roads in the UK. We even want you to write them an email...
What do MPs and Trail Riders have in common?
Not a lot you might think? Trail Riders enjoy accessing our network of Green Roads on trail bikes. MP's sit in meetings all day. They are miles apart… aren't they? Well, it's not quite as it seems. Lets start with MPs… Every part of the UK is represented by a local MP. It is their job to speak up on behalf of their community and constituents (you and me) in Parliament. They ask questions and vote on matters that might affect their constituents. It is their job to take a balanced view of how to improve their community and try to influence government to make these improvements. It's not an easy job and you can imagine that they have to consider many different opinions and points of view, however a good MP should stand up for what is right. And now for the Trail Riders… Trail Riders access the countryside on a network of Green Roads. The vast majority do this with respect and courtesy for other countryside users. The ability to do this is under constant threat as 'anti' groups work to remove the legal right for vehicles to use these Green Roads. Most Trail Riders just want to go out and ride and that's great, however some also understand that in order to be able to continue to access Green Roads we need to stand up and make sure that we have support where it counts, that Government understands how important this issue is and that there are tens of thousands of people who will be affected if our Green Road network is lost. We need to make sure that we have as many MPs fighting our corner as the 'anti' groups have in theirs.
Why should I contact my MP?
There are 650 MPs in the UK. As it stands, very few of them know about the threat to Green Roads and how important this is to such large numbers of Trail Riders. If we don't change this then 'anti' groups have a good chance of influencing the majority of these MPs making it more likely that we will lose our Green Road network. It's no surprise that those who make the most noise get the most attention. We need to make more noise! In order to do this we need MPs to realise that large numbers of their constituents care passionately about this issue and that if it is their job to represent their community then they should be acting and voting in a way that preserves our Green Road network. As you would expect, the TRF works with other Green Road organisations to try to influence Government, however MPs are there for the people, so we need the people - you - to connect with your MP. Recently, TRF member Rob Powell emailed his MP Caroline Nokes to make a point about the health benefit of trail riding. This is what she said in a Westminster debate:
See, it does work!
I wouldn't know how to contact my MP!
Because it is an MPs job to represent the people, they have made it very easy for you to contact them. You can do this in person at an MP surgery, by letter, or by email. As with anything worthwhile in life, it will take a small amount of effort on your part, however we hope that you agree that this is so important that you are happy to put the effort in. We have made it as easy as possible for you with our step by step guide below
What should I say?
It's entirely up to you what you aspect of trail riding that you would like to communicate to your MP. Many MPs would prefer you to write to them in your own words, it doesn't matter if it's not written in a formal style as long as you get across the point you are trying to make. The TRF would like to communicate the following points to as many MPs as possible: What is the TRF asking for? As a member of the Sport and Recreation Alliance (SRA), the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) would like to enlist the support of MPs in the call for the appointment of an 'Outdoor Recreation Minister'. We believe that this appointment should be partnered with a long term strategy for outdoor recreation that includes the health, economic and social benefits of trail riding that can only be achieved with ongoing access to the UK's Green Road network. The TRF encourages MPs to support the work of the TRF and SRA when speaking on outdoor recreation matters in Parliament. Economic contribution to the UK Research indicates that riders spend an average of £5000 equipping themselves to take up trail riding, an estimated 10,000 UK riders equates to £50 million. UK trail riders spend approximately £8.5 million per year on consumable items and insurance. Local rural businesses benefit from regular spending on food, fuel, cafes, campsites, B&Bs, pubs etc (feel free to add the names of a few!). Much spending is committed outside of the regular tourist season, providing an important income stream for rural communities. Find out more about the economic contribution here: http://www.trf.org.uk/much-money-trail-riding-pump-economy/ Health benefit to the UK A recent study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology demonstrated that riding a motorcycle on unsurfaced roads two to four times a week reduced blood pressure and body fat. These changes reduce the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There were also significant improvements in endurance and self reported physical health amongst those who trail rode regularly. Trail riders are more likely to continue as healthy and productive members of society into old age than those with sedentary lifestyles. The importance of retaining our Green Road network For these benefits to continue it is vital that the UK's Green Road network is preserved and remains open to motorcycles. 'Kneejerk' reactions to perceived problems that see areas of the network closed simply increase illegal riding. The TRF works closely with local authorities to encourage respectful, legal trail riding. The small minority of illegal, nuisance riding needs addressed, however closing the Green Road network is not the answer. About the TRF The Trail Riders Fellowship has been in operation for over 45 years and is committed to the conservation of Green Roads for the enjoyment of all. We have a code of conduct that promotes responsible and respectful behaviour towards all countryside users. Our Environmental Policy promotes a Least Impact approach to trail riding. Trail riding is a responsible, non-competitive recreational activity that brings benefits to participants, other rights of way users and the wider economy. The TRF engages in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that includes:
- Social vigilance in rural areas
- Reporting of fly tipping
- Green Road clearance - http://www.trf.org.uk/green-lane-clearing-for-beginners/
- Disabled Access and Riding - http://www.trf.org.uk/green-roads-for-all-users/
- Responsible alternatives to vehicle anti-social behaviour activity
- First aid and emergency response in rural areas
- Advanced motorcycle rider training