Welcome to Colchester Ramblers
We have an active walks programme throughout the year with walks on both Wednesdays and Sundays. During the summer we also have Friday evening walks to gently ease you into the weekend.
Walks are of various lengths and duration, being a good mix of circular and figure of eights. If you've not walked before contact one of the committee to get advice on which walks are best to start out on.
Come on a Walk
If you are not yet a member of the Ramblers' Association then you can still join us on one of our walks. We advise you to come along for upto 3 walks on a try-out basis before joining the Ramblers' Association. As part of the joining process you will be allocated to your local group.
If you live outside the area and wish to receive our printed walks programme please contact our membership secretary
Rambler of the Year 2016
John Watts was awarded the Jessie Keeble trophy at the recent Group's AGM. John has been on the groups committee for a considerable number of years, taking on a number of roles, including group Chair. Here is John with current Vice Chair John Allcock.
Network Rail Update
As you know NR are proposing to close some 130 foot crossings across Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Suffolk, 62 of which are in Essex and of those 8 are in the Colchester Ramblers catchment area. There are more that we regularly walk across, but fall to other Rambler Groups.
Several members of Colchester Ramblers have attended the various NR “consultation” meetings that took place in June and September 2016, in October 2016, both Mags Hobby the Footpath Officer has also sent in detailed comments to NR on the proposed closures and John Allcock, as Chairman, wrote directly to Mr Carne, CE of NR raising a number of more “strategic” points.
NR have responded to John’s letter and in summary, NR have said:-
“The project has multiple benefits including safety, operational efficiency, reliability and paving the way for future improvements such as faster, more frequent trains. We will not be building footbridges or underpasses .... and the (closure) scheme is cost effective for the taxpayer”
“The proposals will be assessed by an independent inspector who has the power to trigger a public inquiry. NR will be required to demonstrate it has taken on board the feedback received and have, where possible, looked at solutions to overcome the issues identified”
“During the two rounds of consultation we have continued to refine our proposals and have .... made significant changes to many of the proposals presented to us.....We have also removed a number of crossings ..... as we were unable to find a suitable alternative crossing point or diversionary route without significant loss of amenity”
(To address the point about the potential danger of cattle on the proposed diversions), NR said “I have asked the project team to pick up this point”
“There will be no compensation arrangements in place (with regard to us having to use a new diversionary route down a narrow, country road) .... “we are carrying out road safety audits at every diversion we propose an interface with the road. If necessary, we will put in place mitigations such as traffic islands and other traffic calming measures. We are working closely with the highway authority in each case.”
MEMBERS of PARLIAMENT
Priti Patel is aware of the response from NR. Bernard Jenkin has, independently, met Mr Carne, the latter making it clear that “NR intend on going ahead with the closures as a matter of safety”. Bernard’s office is exploring two options – first is regarding suitable alternatives to the closures which Bernard intends on raising with the Rail Minister and second, involves the local County Council who are also considering this. Will Quince is aware of our concern but we have not received anything substantial from him.
INVOLVEMENT BY AREA AND CENTRAL OFFICE
We have kept Alan Goffee, the Area Chair informed and in turn, he has passed the many emails on to Central Office.
There is a Petition that members should sign which can be found at http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=117&ea.campaign.id=61089 If there are 10,000 signatures, the matter has to be debated in Parliament. Although this won’t be on the Floor of the House, nevertheless, it will put further pressure on NR.
ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
We are aware of a forthcoming meeting between NR and the Highways department of NR with the former being very sceptical about the reasons being given about the closure programme. eg the “safety” argument on the Marks Tey to Sudbury branch line does not stack up.
A good deal of activity has already happened but it is vital to keep the pressure on so write to your MP, fill out the Petition, contact the local press, tell your non-rambler friends, particularly dog walkers who use the crossings about what is being proposed, speak to your local Essex County Councillors – above all, don’t stop making our case.
Vice Chair Colchester Ramblers