Author Topic: Letter by Malc Foyle to the Wessex Journal- posted here with permission  (Read 3257 times)

Offline PeteHall

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DCA has been able to persuade owners/tenants to allow the "Derbyshire Key" system,

As far as locks go, this is the key to it Jenny.
DCA promote the Derbyshire key and landowners accept it.
CSCC promote the CSCC key and landowners accept it.

Ultimately, most landowners don't really know what their liability is or what impact a cave might have on their land, they rely on the knowledge and guidance of the local caving bodies to hold their hand and steer them to an acceptable solution.

The DCA and CSCC have very different ideas about what is an acceptable solution.

If the CSCC were to promote the Derbyshire key system and actively persuade landowers that it is a better system, I can't imagine anything other than the same result as in Derbyshire.

That said, there is a lot more at play here than the choice of key. As TOR says, the CSCC key system does work fine. It's generally no problem to get a CSCC key, in fact I hold a CSCC key as we have no hut in the Cheddar to store keys in (I know lots of other cavers on Mendip also hold a CSCC key for their own/ club use).

The CSCC key isn't what Malc wrote to the Wessex about, it's the general mentality of the CSCC to obstruct progress that is thew issue. A small clique claim to represent southern cavers, but many southern cavers do not feel represented and Malc has taken the bold step to speak out.

The latest shenanigans with a load of proposals submitted to the BCA AGM, in the name of southern cavers, via the CSCC, without so much as an agenda item for the meeting where they were discussed and by all accounts, without even getting agreed by the committee and signed off before submission, has pushed things over the edge.

The Chairman of the CSCC (who wrote and submitted the proposals, without review by the committee) has massively overstepped the mark and if the CSCC is not prepared to distance itself from this and take appropriate action to rectify the situation, then the CSCC is compliant.

By anybody's standards, due democratic process was not followed, the membership and even the committee were totally unaware of what was being submitted in their name, prior to it getting submitted.

This is totally unacceptable and the CSCC need holding to account. If that means the Wessex (and other Mendip clubs) disassociating themselves from the CSCC, perhaps that is what is needed.
The distance between stupidity and genius is measured only by success.

Offline andrewmc

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The CSCC AGM is currently scheduled for the 25th July (according to the website). Since this would be in the back room of the Hunters, and that's not open yet, whether this will actually happen or not may still be an open question (I don't know).

Online Russell Myers

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Russel, long time, no see. Your comments re history are important. I quite recently questioned a high-up in the Peak district national park authority who was speaking about 'restoring the peak district moors' , I asked whether they were planning to replant with trees as that was the original flora, my final riposte was 'When does history start'.
Another occasion I heard someone make a very definite statement, that was correct within their knowledge timespan, but within mine it was total rubbish.
It is always useful to have the full story, but the difficulty is to know how to use that knowledge. Added to which I also believe that the more one knows about a subject, the more you realise how little you actually know.
Good luck with the 'job'.
John Gresty, blimey, how are you? It is indeed a long time, probably approaching summer 1971 in Cardiff just as I was about to leave. I take it you are living somewhere in the Peak. We must catch up when all this current madness settles down- the pandemic that is!
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Online Russell Myers

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Whilst the current situation is not directly related to access, it does stem from the view that taking control away from the landowners will adversely affect digging - why would they allow new caves to be found that will result in more people coming on to their land?

Or, to put it another way, why wouldn't they.  Lots of landowners are fascinated by what might lie beneath their land and of course you generate good relationships to enable that. 

In my experience of the Dales, landowners expect us to be representing cavers including campaigning for better, improved and legal rights of access.  Building relationships on this basis has improved access and those relationships all round and sometimes you have to be challenging in order to achieve that.  We are often seen as the solution to access issues rather than the problem.  If anything it has improved opportunities for digging not diminished them.
 Landowners have to comply with many laws and regulations every single day of their lives.  It is not something they aren't used to but as you say this has nothing to do with current CSCC and BCA problems as outlined in Malc Foyles letter.

I wanted to make another point when I wrote this yesterday but had to leave the house for some rather damp potholing.

"Why would they [landowners] allow new caves to be found that will result in more people coming on to their land?"  ELMS perhaps?

Environmental Land Management scheme will take over farm payment schemes post brexit.  All farmers/landowners get large subsidy payments for a variety of reasons.  These are changing in the post brexit world as they can no longer be delivered through the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Government Ministers have stated that the new scheme will deliver "public money for public good" and that "public access is a public good".  Most outdoor organisations are working hard to ensure this happens for their own sectors.  The most difficult part seems to be placing a value on access.  Never the less it is likely that schemes will pay farmers for access on PROW, horse riding, climbing etc and it is perfectly possible to include caving amongst that mix.  So find a new cave and the farmer/landowner gets paid for it. 

The problem lies that you need to impress on government/Defra/NE that caving has a value.  That's the job for a national organisation.  Unfortunately since I reported on a meeting with other outdoor organisations two years ago (as a stand in for the BCA C&A officer) nothing has been done.  The BCA volunteer effort and good will is minimised by the infighting and disruptive politics as outlined in the subject of this thread.  It is likely that caving will be forgotten again because we haven't engaged with the outside world only looked inwards to our own petty battles.  We missed the boat with CRoW for the same reason and now we are playing catch up at great expense, I expect we'll be playing the same game with ELMS.
Excellent point and one I only became aware of at the CNCC Meeting on Saturday much to my embarrassment. It is on my to do list, as far as I am aware there is no initiative to engage in this matter from within BCA but I'll do my best to get one going.
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Online Russell Myers

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What it would be good is to have specific support from BCA (rather than a regional body) when dealing with organizations such as councils or governing bodies. We have a very promising dig site in Devon on Highways land but local cavers are scared of asking permission to dig there despite my suggesting that a proposal with a risk assessment might do the job.  There are sites we know of (OR knows one) where our regional representatives appear unable or unwilling to assist with such issues. I know this is just a forum but perhaps somebody knows BCA's position with this.
Oooo Mr Odoc , touchy subject asking BCA to interfere in another regions affairs, I refer you to the Constitution:

 10.1. The Association shall not interfere in the affairs of a Member unless specifically requested to do so by that Member. The Association shall not mediate between Members unless requested by them in writing to do so.

I guess you could always ask but it would have to come through that Regional Council in the first instance.

Sorry, Bob beat me to this response and I didn't realise but I'll leave it up just to reinforce the point.
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 09:16:57 pm by Russell Myers »
JFK: Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.


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