Deregulation Bill success… for now

Dave-Tilbury-04

Dave:

The Deregulation Bill is something completely separate. The Deregulation Bill does precisely what it says in the title, and that is, it is to deregulate. That means that this government has said that there are far too many petty rules and we are going to scrap as many as we can. Deregulation impacts on our activities because the 'anti's' saw it as an opportunity to make all UCR's (Unclassified Roads) into restricted byways thus removing doubt and making it (allegedly) less onerous on the highway authorities. That's what they were hoping.

Dave:

Yes and no. We were very much engaged in the run up the the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (2000) but we (including Government) got an Act that wasn't consulted on.

This time we were engaged and singing from the same hymn sheet as DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

We had the SWG (Stakeholder Working Group - a group of people that represented all interested parties) who had come to a consensus view so that all those involved in using rights of way had an agreement before the Bill was drafted.

Dave:

Yes. It was three or four meetings a year and interim email communication. GLEAM (Green Lanes Environmental Action Movement) were not on the SWG, though they did try to make amendments to the Deregulation Bill in the Houses of Commons & Lords, but were unsuccessful.

Dave:

The draft Bill goes to the House of Commons where it is read through. There is then a committee that hear evidence and views and make amendments. The Bill then passes to the House of Lords where a similar process takes place. Government were very keen to get the Bill through as close to drafted as possible and time was tight toward the end of the last parliament.

The preference would have been to have nothing in there about Byways at all, but there were some small issues that were raised. As a result we pushed for a Motoring Stakeholder Working Group to be set up so we could make sure that any decisions that are made are based on fact, not someone standing up in the House of Lords saying "We've all the seen the photographs of vehicles trashing the countryside…" whilst showing an image of tractor damage or off-road competition. That is just not factual.

Dave:

Yes, so with the motoring SWG we can hammer out the hard facts behind the scenes before it goes forward as a Bill, rather than MPs making a case based on false information.

Dave:

The Bill is now an Act which means it has become law. It will be about a year before the regulations which are required within the Act can be sorted out.

Dave:

In eighteen months time the motoring SWG are supposed to be reporting back to DEFRA, and DEFRA will report back to the minister. At this stage we don't know if the TRF will be part of the motoring SWG but it is something that we should get deeply involved in.

Dave:

No, we're expecting consultation in about two years time on un-metalled roads. So the whole issue will be open to attack in two years time.

Dave:

Well I think that we need to play exactly the same political games that others play. When we go out for a trail ride and we come across an obstruction it needs to be reported. That's one thing that needs to happen at every opportunity. All incidents of conflict, dog attacks and other anti-social behavior needs to be reported.

Some other countryside users get home and are straight on to their Local Council to 'Report a Problem' submitting complaints about TRF riders. So, the TRF need to respond in like fashion.

When we go out we need to report to our highway authority things that are wrong. Lanes that are overgrown. Lanes that are obstructed. We need to apply pressure. You may think that just one complaint won't make a difference, but if you look at the bigger picture, if there are thousands of legitimate complaints then as a user group we become much harder to ignore. We need a more responsible profile.

If you come across a legitimate problem whilst out riding, report it to your local council. Watch the short film above for a quick guide.