As you are aware Network Rail are attempting to close 62 foot crossings in Essex. The Essex Area Update contains letter written by members against the closures. Our website contains the letter sent on your behalf to our MP's.
I write to ask for your support on this issue. We all know public opinion changes things and the more letters of complaint that are written the better chance we have of stopping Network Rail not only this time but in the future.
All of the letter writers are happy for others to use their words. The letter on the website to MP's is also available to use in the same way.
It would be of great help if your Groups and members were able to add to the letters sent. It can be MP's, local Councillors, local papers or even to the new Ramblers Chief Executive, or anyone else that could help.
I do not ask this lightly but because this will directly effect all Ramblers and we have this one chance to stop it.
Welcome to the Basildon Greenway Group. The Group is a local branch of the Ramblers Association covering the Basildon, Billericay and Wickford areas of Essex. We take our name from the Basildon Greenway footpath, a 32-mile path devised by Basildon Council to link many of the walks and nature reserves in the area. Every week, we lead short Tuesday morning walks and longer Sunday walks. Once a month, we also organise a longer Tuesday walk. The short morning walks are generally about 5 to 6 miles starting at 10am and finishing approximately 12:30 with a short break half way The longer Sunday and Tuesday walks are about 9 to 12 miles usually with a pub stop at lunchtime, start at 10am or just after and finish late afternoon. All walks are lead by our local volunteers. The Tuesday morning walks are particularly popular. Most walks start at a car park in the countryside around Basildon, Benfleet, Billericay, Brentwood, Chelmsford, Hockley, Laindon, Pitsea, Stanford-le-hope and Wickford. Occasionally we walk further afield, for example in Kent, Suffolk or London. Our walks are a great way to get outside, make new friends and discover how walking boosts your health and happiness. You’re very welcome to try walking with us, or to get involved in looking after paths and green spaces and opening up new places to explore.
The Group celebrated the 25th. Anniversary of its founding in June and to mark the event a glass of Bucks Fizz and cakes were enjoyed by walkers at the end of our walks on 5th., 7th. and 14th June which were those nearest the anniversary date of 11th. Our photographer recorded the celebrations for posterity, the photographs will appear on the Group website.
Patients Participation Day
Earlier this year Maureen was contacted by John Wheeler from the Patients Participation Groups in Billericay which are attached to GP surgeries in the town>.John explained that they were holding a Wellbeing event on 11th. June as part of the National Patient Participation Awareness week, which included a number of health associated activities (yoga, cycling, pilates etc.) .. He wanted to know if Basildon Greenway Ramblers would be willing to lead a couple of short walks near Billericay on that day. Although it was fairly short notice it was agreed that we would lead two walks, one in the morning of approximately 3½ miles and one in the afternoon of approximately 2 miles. The chairman and vice chairman agreed to take part as back-up ; there were six members of the public on each walk and several expressed interest in joining The Ramblers. Prior to the walk we had to undertake a very comprehensive risk assessment but we could not have anticipated a track which was completely blocked on the day by an immobilised mobile home which had become jammed between two hedges while being transported to a new site; three men had been trying to move it for several hours! This meant an unscheduled diversion but nevertheless the walk was enjoyed by all who took part and John Wheeler was appreciative of our support for the event.
Just as this issue was due to go to print we received the sad news of the passing of Anna Walker. Anna and her husband Alan have been Group members for many years and we extend our sincerest condolences to Alan and family.
Local Footpath News
Following a lengthy period of consultations and a public enquiry Essex County Council have now issued a Confirmation Order establishing a Public Bridleway 253 extending from Lee Chapel Lane, Westley Heights, throughout to Dry Street via Beeleigh Avenue, Homestead Drive, un upgraded section of Footpath 176, Kingston Hill, the existing section of Bridleway 253 to Southway and extending along Southway to its junction with Dry Street. The effect of this is to formalise as an official bridleway on the definitive map a route which in practice has been used over the years by ramblers and equestrians but has hitherto been a mixture of footpath, bridleway, private driveway and public highway; ramblers can therefore now use this route legitimately throughout its entire length and the route will be added to the definitive map.
As has been extensively publicised, Network Rail have issued a statement to the effect that they propose in the long term to close all level crossings where public footpaths cross operational railway land. If fully implemented this will have a drastic effect on the National footpath network as in many cases there is no acceptable alternative. Ramblers’ policy is to agree to closure proposals where an acceptable alternative is proposed, subject to the closure not taking place until the alternative route is in place, but to vigorously oppose any closure where the alternative is not acceptable, e.g. where a longer route along a road - potentially in many cases far more hazardous than the railway crossing it is replacing - is involved. The only two crossings in the Basildon Greenway Group’s patch - the Basildon Borough Council area - are what is known as Motorbike Crossing a hundred yards or so West of Pitsea Station on the Tilbury loop line, and the footpath between Beauchamps Drive, Wickford, and Rawreth Shot, which crosses the Southminster Branch Line between Wickford and Battlesbridge. The former is part of The Basildon Greenway Footpath, also the Thames Estuary Path; Network Rail propose diverting the footpath along the South side of the railway through the grounds of Cromwell Manor which would, if effected, provide a more attractive walk than the existing route over the crossing and north of the railway to Pitsea Station, but would inconvenience anybody walking from the residential area north of the A 13 to Vange Marshes. The latter crossing is on a path little used by ramblers as it cannot be easily incorporated into an attractive circular country walk; its main users are persons employed at the Rawreth Industrial Estate and local dog walkers.
For further information re the crossing closure proposals see Ramblers national publicity and recent copies of Essex Area Update which are sent to all members with email facilities.
"To all members, but particularly walk leaders, you may be aware that National Rail are proposing to close a number of footpath crossings, and have already closed some. I would suggest you look at the Essex Area website for a message from Alan Goffee (Essex Chair) and details of meetings shown on the National Rail website."