Great Stones Way Route Opposition Action Group
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.
Ian Ritchie (Chairman)
22 Oxford St, Ramsbury Marlborough SN8 2PS
The Limes, Oxford St, Ramsbury SN8 2PS
01672 520090 also 07977 454047
Jeff Goddard (Secretary),
6 Darell Rd Caversham RG4 7AY
If you wish to discuss the issues raised in this message, please contact the action group.
Latest News - August 2013
The Charity Commissioners have now concluded their response to the formal complaint made against the behaviour of Mr Ian Ritchie and Mr Jeff Goddard of the Friends of the Ridgeway charity.
The Commissioners acknowledge that this behaviour is having a deeply distressing and worrying effect on residents affected by the perverse actions of the FotR charity.
However, it is not within the Commissioners remit to require Mr Ritchie and Mr Goddard to act in a particular way. So no action can be taken against them.
The Charity Commission has stressed that it is the duty of the FotR trustees to ensure that committee members act in accordance with the FotR’s stated aims and objectives.
It is clear from the above message that the trustees are not performing their duties honourably by allowing the FotR to continue its intimidation of residents by publishing maps of the proposed route through Hilcott.
The Charity Commissioners have stated that the complaint will remain on file with them for future reference.
The FotR Commitee Members/Trustees as of 7th April 2013 as published on the FotR website:
Ian Ritchie Chairman:
Downs & Avon
Jeff Goddard Secretary:
Sally Barnes Treasurer: Stanford-inthe-
Vale of White Horse
Latest News June 2014
The FotR have now changed their website. The previous 'alternative' routes that were shown are no longer being considered. These alternative routes were only ever part of FotR propaganda, and were never put forward as genuine alternatives for the GSW.
Latest News July 2014
Opposition to the planned GSW route through the Vale of Pewsey.
The FotR have now sanctioned an independent guide to an unofficial GSW route.
It is obvious that Ritchie and Goddard have dictated the route marked as the GSW in red in the guide, as it is actually the route that was first published as the FotR ‘preferred’ route on their website in April 2011.
This route met with overwhelming opposition from the parishes that were affected.
The FotR repeatedly states that the GSW would not be routed where residents would be adversely affected. Ritchie and Goddard have again deliberately ignored the stated huge opposition from the affected parishes, and have once again routed the GSW to impose their original route. The only concession has been to bypass Hilcott centre - the result of three years of concerted objections by the Hilcott residents and farmers, and the stated decision by Wiltshire Council not to ever accept this section as part of any official GSW.
Ritchie and Goddard do not have any permission to ‘improve’ or ‘waymark’ any of the controversial north section of the route outlined in this new GSW guide. They intend to establish this as the ‘used’ GSW, then push for official acceptance. This is not democratic, and is a move to get the route accepted underhand by stealth.
We call upon all residents who object to this route to remain vigilant. Complain at all infringements by dogs, report rubbish dropped by walkers to the FotR, put stickers on unsuitably parked vehicles, and generally remain vigilant of any workings, notices or waymarks that appear without permission. We must continue to object to this chosen route for the GSW - it is not needed and is in the wrong place. With the Sarsen Trail and White Horse Trail already crossing the Pewsey Vale, this new route is totally unnecessary. It is just an affectation of Ritchie and Goddard’s self important egotism.
Please contact members of the FotR to register your objections and email the action group firstname.lastname@example.org to offer your support.
Latest News August 2014
It has been brought to our attention that the FotR has plastered the route of the northern section of this unofficial GSW with waymarks and stickers.
Wiltshire Council confirmed on Thursday 31st July that this route does not have the backing or approval from the Council, and that no permission has been given to place any waymarkers or stickers on Council property.
The FotR has screwed waymarkers to Council owned byways posts and way posts in contravention of Council policy. The FotR should remove these markers immediately.
The FotR has also screwed waymarkers to fences and property that is privately owned without permission. This is unlawful - defacing property, and causing criminal damage. Property owners should remove these markers and inform the FotR that permission has not been granted.
The FotR actions in waymarking this unofficial GSW route is to ignore the massive opposition to this route by the people of the Pewsey Vale, and shows yet again the contempt that Ritchie and Goddard have for democracy and the views of the residents.
AAGSW (Action Against the GSW)