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Letter in response to Glasgow Park Management Rules Consultation

Land and Environmental Services,
Parks Management Rules.
Exchange House,
231 George Street,
Glasgow, G1 1RX.

Dear Sirs,

Park Management Rules Consultation

I write on behalf of Glasgow Group of Ramblers Scotland. Ramblers Scotland is recognised
by sportscotland as the governing body for rambling in Scotland, and has over 50 Groups
throughout Scotland. As the governing body, we speak not only for our own members, but
for walkers in general.

I note that proposed Rule 1.3 of the draft Park Management Rules refers to the Scottish
Outdoor Access Code, the guidance under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. However,
although that proposed Rule indicates that the word “Code” would be used to refer to the
Scottish Outdoor Access Code, I can find no use of the word “Code” anywhere else in the
draft Rules (except in proposed Rule 10.5, but that is referring to an entirely different Code).

However, even assuming that the intention was that the Rules would be in accordance with
the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, I do not believe that the draft accords with that intention.
The draft Rules appear to create much tighter restrictions on access than are envisaged by
the Code. It would be ironic indeed if the public were to have freer access to private land in
the countryside than is envisaged for city parks which were specifically designated for public
recreation!

The definition of “Unauthorised Gathering” in proposed Rule 1.4 and its application in various places throughout the draft Rules would be particularly restrictive to Ramblers Groups and other walking clubs in organising any walks which take place wholly or partly within one or more city parks.

Firstly, it is unclear whether such a walk would be regarded as a “gathering, meeting or
assembly”. It may be that these expressions imply stationary activity, in which case they
may not apply to a walk. However, if the walkers stop at picnic benches, or even just to
admire a view, would they then become a “gathering, meeting or assembly”?

Secondly, when a Ramblers Group or other walking club put a walk in their Programme,
they are unlikely to know in advance how many people are going to turn up on the day. It
is therefore impossible for them to know whether there would be “comprising 20 or more
persons”. If they planned a walk and 20 people or more turned up, would they then have to
cancel the walk and send the people away?

Thirdly, you may argue that a legitimate walking Ramblers Group or other walking club
should have no difficulty in obtaining “the prior written consent of the Director”. Maybe so, but it may be impractical to do so within the time constraints of producing a walking programme. For example, my own Group produces two programmes a year, each covering
six months. Each programme is put together from walks offered by leaders, and there is a
fairly short timescale for it to be finalised, and sent for printing, before being distributed to
members. If a leader were to offer a walk which take place wholly or partly within one or
more city parks, and the written consent of the Director were sought, what would the Group
be supposed to do if the Director has not replied by the time the programme had to be sent
for printing?

In any event, the whole ethos of the Land Reform legislation and the Scottish Outdoor
Access Code is that the public, including walking clubs, should not require permission to
walk anywhere in Scotland, whether on private or public land, with certain exceptions, for
example the curtilage of dwellings or railway lines. It would be absurd if they required to
obtain permission to walk in a city park.

I urge the Council to reconsider the draft Rules and re-write them in a way which in
accordance with the spirit of the Land Reform legislation and the Scottish Outdoor Access
Code.


Yours faithfully,

Barry Pottle
Group Chairman

Contact Glasgow Ramblers