Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

A new sign’s appeared

No Dogs
No Bikes
This is not a

There is an increase in these signs across the moors. This one has been placed in the last fortnight or so right across a well-used path on Great Ayton Moor leading to Lonsdale Quarry. A blatant attempt by the landowners to intimidate the public to keep off the moors, despite the fact that this is Open Access Land on which the public is entitled to roam.

Of course, cycling is not permitted and I have always thought dogs were not allowed on Open Access Land but this Government website says that, so long as dogs are on a lead, they are. If I really wanted to be pedantic I would say it is a footpath as it’s well-trodden. It might not be a ‘Public Footpath’ but it is definitely a footpath.

Which brings me to the Government’s proposals to criminalise trespass which were included in the Conservative Party 2019 Manifesto. They are an unnecessary and draconian attack on our freedoms, potentially making criminals of walkers and runners who inadvertently stray from the path, wild campers in the hills, the travelling community and peaceful protesters.

A public petition opposing the criminalisation of trespass was signed by 134,000, as a result, the proposals are due to be debated at the Petitions Committee on 25th January 2021.

It is essential that you ask your MP to attend and represent your views, however, they will need to register to attend therefore you need to contact your MP as soon as possible.

To this end, a website has been set up with a template email which you can easily tweak and send to your MP. It will ask for your postcode to show you’re a constituent, otherwise, he/she won’t have to respond.

Template email for you to adapt and send to your MP:
Dear ____MP,
Subject: Don’t criminalise trespass – please register to attend the Petitions Committee debate on 25th January
As your constituent, I’m very concerned by the Government’s proposals to criminalise trespass. Together with over 134,000 other people, I signed this Parliamentary petition to oppose the criminalisation of trespass (here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300139). If you follow the link, you can click through to a map showing how many other of your constituents also care deeply about this.
The petition is now scheduled for a Petitions Committee debate in Westminster Hall on Monday 25th January 2021 at 4.30pm, and I would like you to attend to represent my concerns. Please register to take part in the debate with the Speaker of the House by Friday 22nd January.
I’m concerned because criminalising trespass would be an extreme, illiberal and unnecessary attack on ancient freedoms that would threaten ramblers who stray from the path, wild campers, Travellers, peaceful protestors and the wider public keen to enjoy nature. Fear of criminalisation may even deter amateur naturalists from carrying out wildlife surveys, as some scientists have warned.
Access to nature is vital for everyone’s physical and mental health – something lockdown demonstrated vividly. Last year’s exceptional spring, combined with the coronavirus regulations, meant many people stopped to observe and experience nature in ways they hadn’t since childhood. With restrictions on overseas travel, many more people enjoyed their summer holidays in the British countryside. Sales of camping equipment have soared; British Canoeing has seen a 40% jump in membership; and National Parks have seen huge numbers of visitors from sections of the population who’ve never visited them before.
Criminalising trespass would create a massive chilling effect on visits to the countryside. Many people are already put off visiting rural Britain through unfamiliarity, poor transport links, existing civil trespass laws and a general sense that they don’t belong or aren’t welcome in the countryside. Such feelings are multiplied greatly for Black, Asian and ethnic minority Britons.
Criminalising trespass isn’t just draconian, it’s completely unnecessary. Landowners who wish to sue trespassers can already do so via the courts. Police forces have stated they don’t want or need any additional powers to deal with unauthorised encampments, whether by Travellers or protestors (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/14/police-oppose-traveller-and-gypsy-camp-crackdown-foi-shows). Gypsies and Travellers are already amongst the most marginalised communities in the UK, and criminalising trespass or increasing police powers of eviction would compound the inequalities they experience.
Criminalising trespass is opposed by numerous access and environment groups, from the Ramblers and British Mountaineering Council to CPRE and the British Horse Society, who wrote to the Home Secretary earlier this year urging her to reconsider the proposals (see https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/rethink-trespass-law-ramblers-urge-priti-patel-8ghgj3m8n). It is also opposed across party lines: the chair of the Conservative Environment Network, Ben Goldsmith, wrote an article in the Telegraph this Autumn calling on the Government to drop plans to criminalise trespass (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/environment/2020/10/22/ben-goldsmith-calls-government-drop-plans-criminalise-trespass/).
The Petitions Committee has scheduled a debate on this subject for Monday 25th January. I’m therefore calling on you as my representative to please attend the debate, and to relay my concerns and those shared by people up and down the country.
Yours sincerely,
[Your name and postcode]



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13 responses to “A new sign’s appeared”

  1. Peter Astle avatar
    Peter Astle

    Once again I am with you 100%. These signs have now become part of the landscape. They are to found everywhere and are undoubtedly designed to intimidate. Bring back hanging for trespassers next? There were signs erected in the vicinity of Hob Cross a few years ago in access land warning people to stick to the rights of way. My complaint to NY Moors National Park was fortunately acted upon and the signs were removed. I haven’t been there for a while so hopefully they have not returned.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      I was at Hob on the Hill the other day. I can’t remember seeing any. Will be back soon. Good idea to complain the the National Park, I’ll make it my policy from now on.

  2. John avatar

    These green signs are beloved of Kildale Estate. There’s one at Juniper Gate on the Baysdale Road and one at the start of the track that leads out onto Kempswithen. A couple years back I questioned the Kempswithen one with NYMNPA and it was removed, an error according to the land agent. 6 months later it was back! I give in, I just ignore them. Don’t know if you’re aware but Kildale Estate has now built a stoned track all the way from Juniper Gate to the road bend above Hob Hole.
    I noticed the signs near Hob Cross (not Hob on the Hill) on the bridleway into Westworth Plantation some time back there are also a few dotted around the plantation itself (discovered whilst ‘short cutting’)

    1. Fhithich avatar

      I’ve the new Juniper gate track several times. On my own though, haven’t taken the dog as I try to avoid confrontation as I get older.

      Ran past your house this morning. A wet splodge.

    2. Reece avatar

      Funnily enough one of those Kildale estate signs saying “not a footpath/bridleway” is at a point where old OS maps actually do show a bridleway. Seems when the route was documented and marked down by whichever act in the 1950s (?) did it the route must have been diverted down into Baysdale instead.

      It’s on the modern bridleway route that goes from the Hob Hole road into Baysdale. Looks like the original route didn’t go down into Baysdale itself, but kept going along the moor edge.

      1. Fhithich avatar

        Do you mean just south of Juniper Gate, at NZ 6144 0731?

        The Ramblers have highlighted this one as a potential “lost way”, see their map https://dontloseyourway.ramblers.org.uk/map.

        (You’ll have to register to view this).

        1. Reece avatar

          I believe that’s the right path, but the sign I saw was at NZ 62699 07741, at the other end. Also notice that on google earth you can see what I think are traces of the old route as lines in the heather.

          1. Fhithich avatar

            Ok. I’ve written to the National Park about the one on Great Ayton Moor. Might be inclined to do something if lots of people complain.

  3. Peter Astle avatar
    Peter Astle

    There seems no way to attach a photo for you but the sign I referred to, spotted on 16 Jan 2018, said, in rather large, bold, unfriendly lettering, “PLEASE KEEP TO FOOTPATH ALL DOGS TO BE KEPT ON LEADS.” Shame its a bridleway so I couldn’t oblige! Nor was I able to keep all dogs on leads! There were several identical, ugly notices in Westworth Wood and along the length of the bridleway leading from Westworth Wood to the Quaker’s Causeway. They were removed at some point but I doubt that will be the end of it. I guess that a lot of this is a reaction to people who allow their muts to run rampant over the moors as their pets would never do anything wrong such as disturbing nesting birds. But what do the landowners have against bikes on their landrover tracks I wonder? I feel that they would really like their “No Bikes, No Dogs” notices the read “No Bikes, No Dogs, No People” if they could get away with it.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      I was interesting to read the Government website about dogs on Open Access land. I’m sure somewhere else contradicts that.

    2. Fhithich avatar

      Peter, I hadn’t appreciated photos can not be attached to comments. I’ll send you an email. I’m a bit reluctant to publish my email address on here.

  4. Fhithich avatar

    I have received the following comment regarding the paragraph in the template email beginning ‘Criminalising trespass isn’t just draconian …’

    “Sorry, but the proforma letter loses credibility due to the above nonsense. If anyone thinks that they can prevent unauthorised encampments of gypsies using the law as it is they are uninformed. It is nothing to do with the police who like it that way and so understandably do not want legislation that would create a duty for them to be involved. I had this dubious responsibility for many years.

    Any opposition to the bill must be aimed at allowing rambling etc. but should not be based on the assumption that unauthorised encampments do not need to be tackled.

    People writing proforma letters need to do better.”

  5. […] Lonsdale Quarry is today’s featured image. The disused quarry on Great Ayton Moor which has no footpath to it. […]

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