For months many of us have have been contacting and lobbying councillors and MPs about the situation at Ash Ranges and the DIO’s behaviour. Whilst we have gained a lot of local support, and for that we are very grateful, our experience of politicians seems to be that they say the right things but then unfortunately go silent and do nothing.
A couple of weeks ago I was in contact with Michael Gove’s senior assistant, ahead of his meeting last Monday with Ben Wallace, to pass on FOI responses that show the DIO have lied (again) about the vandalism to the complex. He has yet to come back to me. Even today I was in contact with his office asking for a quote or statement to go with this post, again no response.
Weekend before last I emailed Nigel Manning (chair of Ash Parish Council). He was very upset that I thought the council were ineffective on this topic, yet 10 minutes later one of my neighbours who has lived in Ash Vale for 30+ years said “well the council just sit on their hands”. I haven’t heard from Ash Parish Council since. They seem to believe that by being promised by the DIO to get notice of the publication of the consultation on the changes of the byelaws they have made some significant progress. Yet the most accessable parts of the ranges, closed for safety of DIO staff during COVID-19 (according the DIO post on the APC website) is still closed to the detriment of all local residents and especially those who are less mobile, see ( https://www.ashranges.com/?p=135).
If you are disappointed by the situation with Ash Ranges and the efforts, or lack of, from Michael Gove or local councillors please write to them to let them know. The more people they hear from the more likely they are to listen.
One person who has written to Michael Gove again today is a long-term local resident, loyal supporter and admin of the “Save Ash Ranges” facebook group Peter Corns. He has shared a copy of his letter to help inspire others. Well done and thank you to Peter. Please see below:
An open letter to Michael Gove Member of Parliament Surrey Heath.
Dear Mr. Gove,
I am writing to raise your awareness regarding significant anti-social behaviour which has taken place within your constituency.
As you are aware anti-social behaviours are actions that harm or lack consideration for the wellbeing of others and are considered to be disruptive to others in society. Indeed, the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) defines ASB; Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons…
The anti-social behaviour I refer to is the action carried out by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation when they closed off public access to the Ash Ranges Floor within your constituency.
This has had a dramatic impact on our community, especially for those with reduced mobility who now find padlocks in place – even on a wheelchair access (Radar) gate.
I have provided you with documentation clearly showing the DIO claims for closure are unsubstantiated and your senior parliamentary assistant gave assurance that these issues would again be raised by you to Ben Wallace. I was also advised that you are aware of the strength of feeling and understand how important access is to the residents.
To say that I was disappointed with the outcome of your meeting with Ben Wallace would be a gross understatement. Although we are grateful that pressure has been applied to ensure adequate public consultation on the Byelaws Review, there was not one mention of the closure of Ash Ranges Floor!
Where was your challenge on this Mr. Gove?
We live in a democracy and it was not only wrong for the DIO to initially prohibit access but also undeniably clear that their action should not be allowed to perpetuate.
The byelaws currently in place should be observed and public access returned; the promised byelaws consultation should provide an adequate platform for the DIO to argue their case for closure although their claims relating to vandalism and safety have been shown to be unsubstantiated.
I have made a proposal to the DIO for consideration of a ‘Citizen Warden Scheme’ which could provide a cost-free solution and maintain public access, there has been no response to that proposal.
You are aware that I have requested a meeting with you, video or telephone, to discuss this situation.
Please Mr. Gove, show us your teeth and bite into this travesty, your constituents are watching!!