A trust for the Railway Path?

Charlie Bolton writes in the comments:

Hi everyone

I have seen Paul Smith suggest in a couple of places that we pursue the idea of setting up a trust to take ownership/control of the path.

(I believe this was the basic idea of John Grimshaw)

Do others see this as an avenue worth pursuing?

This entry was posted in Bristol, Developments, Environment, Green Party, Local government, South Gloucestershire, Transport, WESP and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to A trust for the Railway Path?

  1. Sarah says:

    It’s certainly on the agenda for the savetherailwaypath steering group to discuss and progress

  2. Howard Cain says:

    I’m guessing that the landowners are the various Local Authorities through which the path passes. Do you really think that they’d snooker their own plans by selling the path off?

    The idea of a trust owning a cycle route reminds one of the 18th & 19th Century Turnpike Trusts which were set up to maintain highways not under the responsibility of the parishes. How is a trust going to work? Finances? Coin operated toll booths at every access point? Smart card access. Doesn’t sound particularly practical, does it. What other ideas are out there to finance this proposed cyclepath trust?

  3. Paul Smith says:


    You raise some interesting points although I think the tolls are proposed elsewhere!

    Arnos Vale cemetry was passed to a Trust, which then being a charity was able to successfully fundraise in places the council can’t. If the path was currently in charitable ownership it would be eligible for lottery programmes.

    The other option that some people discussed after Tuesdays meeting was a joint committee of some kind to manage it as happens with the Downs (I think this is a less good option).

    I could envisage a trust which has a board of trustees drawn in proportion from the local community, sustrans or a representative body of cycling interests and the two councils.

  4. Chris Hutt says:

    As Howard said the LAs aren’t likely to hand the Path over to a trust until such time as they have truly abandoned any aspirations to use it as a Rapid Transit route.

    It follows that the creation of a trust will merely consolidate the eventual success of our campaign rather than bring that success forward, although it might have symbolic value.

    Two or three short sections are already in the ownership of Sustrans but that doesn’t appear to do much to stop the existing threat. The City Council’s legal dept. have recently been investigating likely Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) sites along the Railway Path.

  5. Gary Hopkins says:

    I think your analysis is correct . The Arnos vale example was a good one as the council had no ambitions for development or money to preserve but also wanted to protect against an unwanted private developer.
    As we all know the wildlife can be a useful lever in the preservation and detailed examination could be useful. In addition there may be some tree preservation orders in place and grounds for seeking more.
    The cycling city offers an opportunity towards preservation and enhancement. I have recieved entreaties not to continue the campaign whilst the judges are in town as it might ruin Bristol’s chances of winning the money. I would suggest rather than going quiet the emphasis should be put on positive benefits and enhancement and making the path an integral part of a winning bid.This would make it that much more difficuilt to attack later.
    I know it might seem a strange analogy but the most effective way to preserve wildlife is to make it a valuable tourist resource rather than just trying to shoot the poachers.
    Whilst I believe that the way that S. Glos was raised was a diversionary tactic and should not be allowed to let BCC off the hook enquiry letters to all S.Glos Cllrs. might produce interesting results. Campaigners might well find that S.Glos Cllrs. want more from the sub regional strategy than rapid routes in and out of Bristol which might well mean that they are open to the ring Rd and M32 being a better route.
    The quangogracy will after a short delay probably come back for the path and unless there are enough politicians in place ,with the power to act, the campaign will lose.
    The excerts from Kerry McCarthy were interesting because they showed a politician that realised that their seat was in danger. She has connections to Brown and if sufficiently motivated could actually do something.Watch out though for a temporary fix until after the general election.
    Labour Cllrs who pledged support but did not give it need not be written off .They were either part of the weasel words strategy or were misled by their leaders. If a few of them are willing to work with us on this issue we could get a change in Bristol.

  6. Chris Hutt says:

    Gray Hopkins – “S.Glos Cllrs. want more from the sub regional strategy than rapid routes in and out of Bristol which might well mean that they are open to the ring Rd and M32 being a better route.”

    That’s a very interesting and helpful observation. Those of us based around central Bristol naturally assume that this is where people want to get to and from, but there are now many other sub-regional centres.

    From the point of view of Emerson’s Green (Science Park) a rapid transit link along the Avon Ring road corridor to Parkway Station (5 km) and UWE would surely make more sense than a route to Temple Meads (10 km). The link would then connect to the proposed northern route to reach the City Centre based on the M32 corridor.

  7. poor dear says:

    Gray Hopkins – “S.Glos Cllrs. want more from the sub regional strategy than rapid routes in and out of Bristol which might well mean that they are open to the ring Rd and M32 being a better route.”

    Well why don’t you find out and tell us instead of making excuses that you can’t ask them anything because it might stop us beating up on Bristol Council.

    South Gloucestershire gave planning permission to the science park and new housing in the first place without any proper poublic transport in place – just like they did when they allowed all that development at Aldonsbury and Cribbs.

    I notice that Gary wants the cycle campaign to do their work for them, presumably so that Gary can blame the cyclists when the motorists start complaining about an on road scheme. “Nothing to do with me, it was the lycra brigade wot dun it”

  8. Martyn Whitelock says:

    Can we all please focus our thinking on getting people OUT of the city and into the countryside, rather than this just being a commuter route. Maybe its time to start REALLY using the railway Path for more events, like walking races. What do people think? Any ideas?

  9. BristleKRS says:

    I can think of a few candidates whom I’d like to see wobble to death 😉

  10. sarah says:

    Martyn – interesting comment. I agree that the Path could be used for more events – it would be great to see it used for festivals and for races. Don’t forget that it’s already used for much, much more than commuting, in fact I suspect that the lycra-clad high-speed commuters, although they are high profile users of the path, are in a minority.

    If you were to spend an hour sitting on a bench on the Easton section of the path you’d see all sorts of people using it. We were out from 10.30am to 11.30am on a crisp March Friday morning during school termtime, and we noticed:

    An elderly lady crossing the Path with her wheely shopping bag
    Several parents with young children in buggies
    A couple on roller blades
    Several slow cyclists, including a couple who looked to be in their seventies out for a leisurely day trip
    A post office delivery bike and postie resplendent in red and yellow orange reflectives
    Several joggers
    Two or three people just walking along chatting
    Some people walking along on their own
    One (only one!) cyclist of the commuter variety (i.e. lycra-clad)

  11. DreamGirl says:

    You didn’t see any dog walkers?
    Martyn, the Path is our slice of countryside, a breath of fresh air in a quiet space, maybe quiet at the rush hour when all the commuters are using it, but peaceful enough for walking the dog at other times

  12. Martyn Whitelock says:

    DreamGirl – I know 🙂 It’s so great having a green corridor that also offers a people-less space at certain times. Sometimes we just want to be alone with nature 🙂

  13. Martyn Whitelock says:

    What a superb idea! – A trust for the Railway Path.

    That way we can ensure its long-term future and filter out the hypocrites. I can give you the name of someone who also has some very relevant knowledge and long-term interests in the path (but not here).

  14. Gary Hopkins says:

    At regular CUBA Lib dem meeting , where a few reps from each group get together,a few days ago the railway path was not suprisingly discussed.The S. Glos Lib Dem position is that they would prefer a T shape route ie one that connects around the ring rd from Emersons green to Parkway/Abbeywood/Uwe and down M32 and would do what they could to encourage that. It seems unlikely that there is any push to use the path from the Conservative executive as he does not seem to be actively engaged and if he were would likely be pushing for this sort of route as it gives them more internal benefit.
    I do not know if Labour groups speak to each other cross border but it seems unlikely Tory ones do as a leading Bath Tory was recently asked what she thought of Richard Eddy’s love affair with Bristol Labour and replied WHO?
    Not suprisingly another key discussion item involved the other groups offering their support to stop the West of England (Bristol Lab/Tory) building an incinerator in Bristol.

  15. Paul Smith says:


    Thanks for doing that – sounds promising

  16. Gary Hopkins says:

    Mr Smith
    As previously stated the problem never was in S. Glos. ,although the Tory leader up there did make some rather appalling general noises about keeping central government happy through the W.O.E. partnership.
    While we are disposing of misinformation can you now recant on the nonsense of “Bradshaw saves waste miles created by Dorset composter”
    1 Lib Dems. had to take action to reduce our inherited 87% landfill vast amounts of which was organic and emmitting methane (23 times more damaging than CO2).
    2 As soon as we were confident that we had a good reliable organic stream and would therefore get lots of competituion for the business we passed through cabinet in Oct 2006 a procurement for a local in vessel composter.
    3 Although these do take a long time to come to award of contract due to EU procurement regs. we are concerned that this has taken longer than necessary under the new regime and are conducting enquiries.
    4 The recently agreed 2 year lapse from award of contract to inception date (Jan 2010) is too long.
    5 In the interim the polution caused by the waste miles are a tiny fraction of that saved by the removal of 30,000 tons P. A . of organic waste from landfill.
    What is a scandal is that as well as planning an incinerator for Avonmouth Bradshaw and his chums have just signed up an extension to Bristol’s landfilling contract that will penalise a future administration and Bristol taxpayers if we recycle too efficiently and do not send enough waste to landfill.

  17. Peter Goodwin says:

    Gary’s switch of topic raises some questions worth exploring, once you’ve cut out the party wrangling. Why not continue it somewhere more appropriate than a thread about something else in a blog that’s (sadly) winding down?

    I see the online Bristolforum has just been relaunched – including a forum on ‘Bristol News and Local Events’ where you can start your own topic threads. Probably easier to use for this kind of discussion than by adding random comments to a blog. Worth a try, Gary?

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