Great Stones Way News and GSW Information
Opposition to the Great Stones Way (GSW) through the Vale of Pewsey
The intention of this website message is to inform supporters of the ‘Friends of the Ridgeway’ and potential GSW walkers of the controversy concerning the proposed ‘preferred’ alternative route that is published on the FoTR website, delineated in green. It is not the intention to discuss the pros and cons of the GSW as a project.
Because of widespread concern about the second FoTR route when it was first published in April 2011 (without any discussion with farmers, residents or landowners), an Environmental Impact Study was conducted by Graham Bathe Associates. At a meeting held by Bathe during this study for the affected parishes to air their views, all 71 representatives from the 11 parishes voted to oppose the route. A single person from an adjacent parish abstained.
The EIS report concluded that while it considered that the GSW was perhaps a viable prospect, the proposed route should be reconsidered because of the widespread opposition. Graham Bathe specifically concluded that the part of the route South of Bottlesford and through Hilcott was not suitable, and that an alternative should be found. Incidentally, Wiltshire Council had previously informed the FoTR that this part of the proposed route was not viable as part of the GSW, and would not be given the support of the Council. We have recently been informed after intervention by Claire Perry MP, that there is further confirmation that the Council would not accept this section of the proposed route as part of the GSW.
The FoTR publicly stated that they would accept all the EIS recommendations, so Hilcott farmers and residents requested that the published website maps be removed. Following this, we were threatened by Jeff Goddard (Secretary of the FoTR) that unless alternatives route (s) were totally agreed and submitted to them by a given date, the route through Hilcott would remain the status quo. As it was not possible to guarantee total agreement to any alternative route, the FoTR carried out Goddard’s threat, and have continued publishing the route on their website. After many more requests to either change or remove the published maps, Jeff Goddard has again threatened us with unspecified actions and the route remains on the FoTR website.
Despite the declared aims and intentions of the FoTR:
· Acceptability: The route should so far as possible avoid any areas where the presence of walkers or their vehicles may reasonably cause inconvenience or offence to residents.
Not adversely impact the natural, heritage, cultural or social environment along the route, or any of the residents. Respect the Countryside Code!
It is obvious that the FoTR have no intention of abiding by their intentions. Ian Ritchie (Chairman FoTR) has written to Wiltshire Council stating that the objections of residents and local people should not be a reason to stop the proposed GSW. Ian Ritchie’s dealings with the people of the Pewsey Vale have resulted in him being perceived as an arrogant bully, who is determined to impose his preferred route whatever the objections by the communities affected.
Jeff Goddard has been duplicitous in his actions over the publication of the ‘preferred’ GSW route, and has shown a complete lack of any decency towards the residents and farmers along the route that the EIS concluded should be changed.
The residents and landowners in the Pewsey Vale have been intimidated by the FoTR’s declared prediction of up to 400,000 walkers each year passing behind and near our properties. The proposed preferred route uses the Pewsey Vale villages as stepping stones, and the route passes by at least 11 properties in Hilcott alone, and Hilcott is a tiny community.
If you are a walker considering following the FoTR preferred route for the proposed GSW, we ask that you respect the opposition voiced by the communities of the Pewsey Vale, and use one of the alternatives shown on the FoTR website. Walking in open countryside is fine, but when the route takes you behind residents’ houses and gardens, and past the front of their houses, it is understandable that the lack of privacy and disturbance causes real resentment and anger.
The FoTR are deliberately asking that you use their preferred route - totally in contravention of their declared level of acceptability (above) and acceptance of the EIS conclusion to find a different route that bypasses Hilcott.
Because of the actions and behaviour of Ian Ritchie and Jeff Goddard of the FoTR, a formal complaint has been submitted to the Charity Commissioners, citing this behaviour as likely to cause disrepute to the charity. It is our considered opinion that neither Ian Ritchie nor Jeff Goddard are fit persons to run a charity.
Thank you for reading this message. There is documentary evidence to support all that is written here. The Pewsey Vale residents are resolute in opposition to the ‘preferred’ route marked green on the FoTR website being used as part of the GSW.
If you wish to discuss the issues raised in this message, please contact Ian Ritchie or Jeff Goddard of the FoTR:
Ian Ritchie (Chairman)
22 Oxford St, Ramsbury Marlborough SN8 2PS
Jeff Goddard (Secretary),
6 Darell Rd Caversham RG4 7AY
AAGSW (Action Against the GSW).