Head of Open Spaces Society Celebrates 40 Years in Role

Kate Ashbrook, General Secretary of Open Spaces Society based in Henley is celebrating 40 years in the role.

Kate said, “When I joined the Open Spaces Society as its general secretary 40 years ago, our world was very different. When I look back on 40 years (and indeed the whole 159 years of our existence) most of the society’s victories are the things which we prevented: paths not diverted, commons not fenced, open spaces not developed-nothing to see, but extremely satisfying.

“From the new government we want changes which bring new public benefits.  And we must eliminate the inequalities in access.  It is vital to provide access close to home.  A mechanism to ensure that new greens are registered more readily, by encouraging voluntary registration by landowners, and mandatory registration by developers, will provide new spaces with guaranteed protection.

“Local authorities, when disposing of open space, must be compelled to provide suitable land in exchange; serving the same community.  The Environmental Land Management Scheme in England, and the Sustainable Farming Scheme in Wales, offer to pay farmers and land managers for new and improved access.  It is taking an inordinate amount of time for this to happen -but these schemes should help to give access where people need it.

“Forty years on there is still plenty to campaign for.  We have always been ready to take legal action where needed and shall raise our game to get results, while remaining nimble, feisty, and fearless in defence of our rights.”



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