2pm Saturday 5th December, Main Gates, Heathvale Bridge Road, GU12 5EU
After 8 months of seeking justice and a restoration of full access to the Ranges through official channels, the situation still persists. Local residents have enjoyed access to all of the ranges, when not in use, since the ranges were established in 1855. The DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation), are a part of the MoD responsible for land and buildings. They are faceless bureaucrats who show no empathy to the public. They are only interested in saving money or making money and their actions often seem to go totally unchecked. Their explanation for the sudden closure of the ranges is baseless and all their claims have been proven false through Freedom of information requests. They recently claimed in The Guildford Dragon Newspaper that the reason for closure was due to vandalism and provided pictures of broken gates. It was then pointed out the pictures they had provided, were not even located in the enclosed area. Their biggest claim is of £170,000 worth of damage through vandalism yet, through the amazing work of Peter Corns with FOIs, we can prove this to be a lie. They have no register of vandalism or associated repair costs. The same themes echo through every other statement made by the DIO. There is more information on this site.
We then arranged a meeting with the DIO and invited our MP and local Councillors to attend, to hear how angry residents were. At this meeting we were told the reason for closure was due to “risk appetite”. The excuses for closure seem to continually shift, as each one is proven false.
Due process has got us nowhere. Our MP, Michael Gove has sat on the fence rather than help the constituents that voted for him to have a seat in parliament and our local Councillors continue to operate in a shroud of secrecy and promise attendance at meetings, only to send apologies on the day.
So, to show Michael Gove MP and Ben Wallace MP (Defence Secretary) just how far the DIO’s actions have alienated the local residents (whom have always supported and lived alongside the military), we need to publicly mourn the land that has been stolen.
We are unable to arrange a protest, which is what we originally wanted, due to the current COVID-19 restrictions. However, individuals can show their support for the cause.
On the website here is over 150 photos of the ranges, donated to us by supporters of the ‘Save Ash Ranges’ campaign. If you would like to show your support, we have printed each one of these photos which will be in a box, near the main gate from 2pm Saturday 5th December. There will also be string you can use to tie the photos to the gates and fence.
You must adhere to social distancing rules so please wear a facemask and keep 2 metres apart, always. We will mark 2-metre distances on the road to help with this. We will be on hand with hand sanitiser. It is paramount that every adheres to the tier 2 COVID rules, that are in place.
At 3pm Reverend Neil Lambert of St Mary’s, Ash Vale, will give a brief service (which we will film and put on the website) as we mourn the loss of the millions of hours of recreation that have been lost due to the unlawful closure of the most accessible 330 acres of the ranges.
If you would like to come along on Saturday December 5th, add a photo and show your support to our campaign, please take personal responsibility for ensuring all current social distancing restrictions are adhered to.
We will not give up this fight. We love and support our military personnel, and we are proud of their connection to our villages. But these faceless and arrogant bureaucrats (the DIO) who act without any care for the communities their decisions affect, must be challenged.