Ash Ranges Update

Have you heard the latest?

If you have been reading the online version of The Parishioner magazine during the covid crisis, you may remember this Parishioner cover some months ago. A lot has happened since we last printed a Parishioner and popped it through all your doors! Here’s an update for anyone who missed it. Tim Jones is our contact within the “Save our Spaces” team and shares the latest news with us: 

In May, we were copied on a letter from Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt & Jonathan Lord (our local MPs) to Jeremy Quin (The Minister of State for Defence Procurement) and to our surprise, the letter suggested that the MPs totally understood our position and were also questioning the validity of the reasons the DIO had provided for closing the ranges. However, the good feeling was short-lived as nothing happened before the parliamentary recess. Not to be disheartened, ‘Save our Spaces’ took the campaign to the national press in July. Beginning with an article in the Guardian & Observer, which empathised with the local people about what has been taken away from them. Off the back of that article, we were contacted by BBC South Today who wanted a segment for their evening news. This aired on August 5th and featured interviews with people involved with the campaign as well as an excellent soundbite from our very own Revd Neil Lambert, barely able to contain his frustration about the issue and how it’s been handled by the politicians. There has since been further coverage of the issue via BBC Radio Surrey and Private Eye magazine.

In October we heard about a surprise visit to the Ranges by MPs Michael Gove and Jeremy Quin . A few days later, we heard about 2 proposed new paths : One running north/south from Furze Hill to the bottom of Normandy Hill (aka phase 1) and another running east/west from the main entrance up to the heathland (aka phase 2) However, the plans weren’t very detailed and seemed to cover some quite challenging terrain, so may not even be feasible to implement as-is in our opinion. It would be nice to get a conversation started between local residents and the DIO before they spend even more money on more pathways which may be too impractical for most people’s use.

Thanks to the press coverage & people’s support, we have received sufficient donations to be able to start the legal proceedings to get a clearer view on the legality of the closure. Many thanks to those who have donated. Any unused funds collected will be donated to the charity: Help for Heroes.

You can read more about how to help on the website: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-our-spaces