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Open Letter Appeal to MP Gove Over Row About Ash Ranges

Published on: 21 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2021

The closure of the Ash Ranges has provoked a growing protest from residents who want to continue to enjoy the rural amenity.

In an open letter to local Tory MP Michael Gove, from Mrs Hannah McGill, of Ash Vale explains here objections to the closure.

Dear Mr Gove

Having suffered with the closure of the Ash Ranges for nearly a year, it is now that I feel compelled to write to you to implore you to take further action in support of the local residents.

At present, the footpaths surrounding the range complex are almost impassable. With the winter weather, the ground has become heavily water-logged and the narrow, muddy pathways that run along the outside of the fence are now dangerously slippery and in places, several inches deep with mud.

It is no longer safe for my two small children to walk along these paths; buggies have become completely immovable and I am certain the elderly residents of Ash Vale are at risk of serious accident. That we are forced to wade through this quagmire, when there is a concrete road a few meters away on the other side of the fence, is ridiculous.

Some action to widen pathways has been taken with installation of new bridges over waterways and ditches, but much of the path is still too narrow to even walk two-abreast.

See other Ash Ranges stories here

During this time of vital social distancing, and increased use of local outdoor space for exercise and fresh air, in many places along these paths, it is not possible to be more than a few inches away from someone else when passing.

I have witnessed masked neighbours getting tangled in holly bushes and brambles while trying to maintain a two-metre distance from other walkers, and there is little space for cyclists. Again, these narrow walkways are directly alongside a paved road over the fence that’s about five metres in diameter.

And while schools are closed again, it is important that my children have daily outdoor exercise. This would be made so much easier for all the local residents if the range complex was open when the military are not using it for firing.

Children would have a safe, open space to run around, to ride bikes and scooters and to play in lieu of a playground. Surely you could use your influence to ask the DIO to open the range complex during this time of lockdown as a gesture of goodwill?

In more general terms, I am increasingly concerned about the safety of walkers in the local area. Since the DIO have changed the signs at the gates, there is no longer any explanation of the flag warning system to indicate when there is firing.

With the gates locked, I recently saw a visitor had climbed the gate and begun walking across the range complex while the red flag was flying. Only at the sound of gunfire did this person realised their mistake, climbed back over the fence and I clarified their error. This is an accident waiting to happen.

And so, again, I implore you to please use your influence to encourage the DIO to see sense, to work with the local residents and not against them, to allow access to the range complex when it is not being used by the military.

I look forward to learning what action you will be taking.

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test One Response to Open Letter Appeal to MP Gove Over Row About Ash Ranges

  1. Robert Good Reply

    January 21, 2021 at 12:03 pm

    I agree.

    As a 73-year old with I keep safe by not going into shops, but I do try and take a daily walk with my partner. Many footpaths have become quagmires.

    It would be great if some of the highways budget could be transferred to footpath maintenance.

    It would reflect the fact that people are walking more than before, during the Covid-19 pandemic, and it would show support for healthy alternatives to driving.

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