Leading figures in Ramblers Scotland have joined forces to raise £200,000 to save the Ramblers office and staff in Scotland from massive cutbacks.
Dick Balharry, President of Ramblers Scotland, who joined with Dennis Canavan and Cameron McNeish to launch the appeal, said, “My colleagues and I are determined to secure the future for Ramblers Scotland. The Ramblers have made a massive contribution to the protection of Scotland’s natural heritage, helping to safeguard our magnificent scenery from endless threats, from superquarries and bulldozed roads to powerlines and blanket afforestation. The Ramblers are needed for today and tomorrow. When government energy policies promote huge windfarms in wild places we all want the Ramblers in at the centre of the debate, challenging those who put private gain before public benefit”.
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland has also weighed into the debate with a strident call for the Ramblers to reverse their decision.
MCofS President, Chris Townsend said, “Ramblers Scotland is a major force in access and conservation work north of the border. This move will have serious consequences in Scotland and suggests that the Ramblers Board in London have little knowledge or understanding of the role Ramblers Scotland plays.
I’ve worked with Ramblers Scotland staff and know just how good and committed they are. Losing them will be a big blow to all outdoors people in Scotland.”
MCofS Chief Officer, David Gibson said, “Our staff and volunteers work with colleagues at Ramblers Scotland on a range of projects related to access and conservation issues, and encouraging people to enjoy activities in the outdoors. The loss of Ramblers Scotland staff, with their range of skills and experience, is potentially a serious set-back. We want to give our friends at Ramblers Scotland our full support at this difficult time, and urge our members and anyone else who enjoys Scotland’s outdoors to lobby Ramblers in London to reverse this decision, and to provide whatever support they can afford to Ramblers Scotland.”
Financial difficulties are causing the Ramblers to propose cutbacks in staffing and support services right across its GB operations. Ramblers Scotland say that this is a short term problem, largely caused by a falling off in income during the recession. The prospective £300,000 cut in budget would leave Ramblers Scotland with just £81,000 to cover our 2009/10 operations when the next financial year starts on 1 October. The Ramblers say that this is likely to result in the closure of the Scottish headquarters near Kinross, and reducing the staff from seven to two. Ramblers Scotland says it needs to raise £200,000 within a few weeks to ensure survival until mid 2010. By then they expect their main income flows to be restored and activities to be operating again at maximum strength. To find out more and make a donation see the Ramblers Scotland website.