Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Caring about walking

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I care about walking and the walking environment and today signed up to the Ramblers election manifesto*. The Ramblers is Britain’s walking charity, making walking available to everyone through improving places for walking, and encouraging people to walk. Over half a million participants nationwide walk with us every year on 28,000 walks. http://www.ramblers.org.uk/

[The Ramblers] have produced an election manifesto which highlights the areas of importance to walkers, this document is detailed below*. Further campaign information can be found here.

Please support the work of the Ramblers and consider joining, which you can do by clicking here.

*The Ramblers

General election manifesto for walking: breaking down the barriers

For 75 years throughout Britain, we have promoted walking and campaigned successfully for public access for walkers. We are Britain’s walking charity, making walking available to everyone through improving places for walking, as well as encouraging people to walk.

However, Britain today has increasing levels of political devolution and devolved powers. This means that we need politicians of all parties, whether located in Westminster, Cardiff, or Edinburgh, to support and work with us to contribute to a walking Britain.

As Britain’s walking charity we’re committed to ensuring access to all footpaths, the countryside, the coast, the town, and everywhere where people go walking. Over half a million participants walks with us every year on 28,000 walks. These walks are led by 12,000 volunteers. This work is at the heart of all that we do.

We’re also evolving and building on our achievements from the past 75 years. That’s why we’re doing new types of work including promoting walking for families and for people who currently don’t walk at all.

We deliver a wide variety of walking programmes across England, Scotland and Wales. Our walking programmes contribute to a wide range of political priorities such as: health, wellbeing, the rural economy, the environment and climate change.

In this General Election, we want candidates to commit to breaking down the barriers to walking with us. These are:

Physical Barriers:

A good walking environment is a major motivator for walking whereas a poor walking environment acts as a deterrent to walking.

We want to see:

• Protection and improvement of public paths in England and Wales, as well as proper implementation of legislation for new path networks in Scotland

• Delivery of the coastal route, which became law last November, as fast as possible

Financial Barriers:

There are big financial challenges facing the next Government, but the maintenance of green space, footpaths and open land to walk in, and the promotion of walking, is a low-cost way of delivering key public benefits.

We want to see:

• Linkage of Common Agricultural Policy subsidies which are better used for recreation and access provision

• Investment in walking schemes to benefit health, wellbeing, environment and the climate as part of the Olympic legacy

Cultural Barriers:

Reverse the culture which constantly prioritises vehicle users whilst walkers get left behind. This culture and priority in both national and local government needs to be challenged if the benefits of walking are to be maximised

We want to see:

• Positioning of the walker at the top of the transport hierarchy; particularly giving greater priority to walkers at road intersections

• Strong action being taken against those who put walkers’ lives at risk through reckless driving

Legal Barriers:

The law should be on the side of walking rather than making it harder for walkers

We want to see:

• Amended legislation which requires an independent review when there is an objection to orders to gate alleyways, which are used by people of foot

• The protection and promotion of public access, and green space to be made accessible, safe, and well-maintained, through use of the planning process in both town and country

Refugee protection

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Greens want a sustainable society. A crucial aspect of sustainability is fairness: within our society; from generation to generation; locally and globally. Greens are opposed to discrimination on grounds of: age; ethnic group; gender; sexuality; class; nationality...Progess in our society is measured not only by wealth but by our capacity to act in a humanitarian way.

My committment: There is no place for racism and xenophobia in modern British politics. Nor is democratic debate advanced by the denigration of the most vulnerable in our country, including children and asylum seekers who do not enjoy the right to participate in elections. I promise to remember the importance of refugee protection, even in free and wide-ranging debates about immigration policy. I will never play fast and loose with the proud tradition of a nation that must always offer succour to those in genuine fear of persecution.

See: http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/


Championing mental health

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As a Green I think that health is all about joined up thinking ie I take a systems or holistic approach. This means that to be healthy and to address health issues, problems and opportunities successfully I believe we have to consider physical, mental and social (and, for some, spiritual) aspects and the interrelationships between them. The mental health dimension has long been neglected - and we need to put this right. If elected, I pledge to champion mental health in the next Parliament, taking up the cause of thousands of people affected by mental illness that are: facing discrimination in everyday life; being denied basic treatments to help them recover; languishing in prison without any healthcare (see http://www.rethink.org/).