The Save Cannock Chase Facebook page was set up by me and my neighbour Stu in response to the repeated closure of the two-mile Chase Road. A favourite spot for dog walkers, cyclists, horse riders, families and hikers the Chase Road is also one of the few places accessible to disabled and infirm people where you can see a huge variety of wildlife including deer, birds and stunning views within a few minutes of parking up. Since starting the Save Cannock Chase Facebook group we have heard from several residents who are disabled and used to regularly park up on the Chase Road to sit and enjoy the views and spot the deer. It’s also been cited repeatedly as an absolute lifeline for those suffering with their mental health.
Here are just a few of the comments we’ve received from residents in the past few weeks, republished here with their consent:
“As a disabled person I really enjoyed parking in Dry Pits carpark as I can walk to the bench and just enjoy the view. It's so peaceful there and struggling with lockdown it would have been so nice mentally to be able to go again. I feel personally that shutting off the road is not only discrimination against those less abled but to all the lovely people who genuinely enjoy the area.”
Jan Elson, Chase Terrace.
“For the last 15 years or so I’ve been visiting this part of the Chase pretty much every day, until the lockdown. I have been walking there as part of my own mental and physical well-being and also through my work as a therapist and prior to that as a Forest school leader. It is the best place on the Chase for accessibility for people with different needs. I adore the natural environment and wildlife and find that most people I see there are also respectful of the nature and wildlife too.”
Rebecca Gallop, Weeping Cross
“We like to walk around Brocton rather than the more crowded areas and were amazed to see that Chase Rd. is still closed. We're now parking in the layby on the opposite side and then have to take our chances crossing the road and walking the path up Anson's Bank to get to where we want. It saddens me that local people who enjoy walking in what is a beautiful part of our area should be treated like this.”
Gill Brooks, Burntwood.
Despite this outpouring of feeling Staffordshire County Council refuses to satisfactorily explain why the Chase Road is closed, citing a fire risk despite the huge amount of rainfall we’ve had over the past few weeks.
Delving deeper we uncovered a ‘public’ consultation held by the Staffordshire County Council-led Cannock Chase SAC (Special Area of Conservation) between October and November 2019 which spoke to just 115 individual residents and 15 organisations on the idea of closing off free car parking across the Chase and creating more paid for parking. The results of this consultation showed that only 15% of respondents agreed with the car park closures with 39% saying that no car parks should be closed and 23% that less car parks should be closed. Despite this SAC has now compiled The Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation, Strategic Access Management & Monitoring Measures Detailed Implementation Plan Car Parking dated 2nd March 2020, the contents of which are truly shocking! A £7.8 million plan to shut 35 car parks and laybys across Cannock Chase and increasing the size of other main car parks whilst making 11 of them pay and display, including Marquis Drive.
The implementation plan also reserves the right to close off many of the Chase Road car parks and potentially ensure that at least parts of the road remain closed forever, increasing pollution and safety risks with visitors from Cannock, Hednesford and Rugeley having to drive further to get where they want to go.
Fortunately, what started as a conversation between neighbours three weeks ago has become a group of just under 500 local residents and a 350+ strong survey that shows that 77% oppose closure of the Chase Road and 80% oppose the closure of free car parks and laybys across the Chase. As a group we are committed to stopping these plans in their tracks and ensuring Cannock Chase remains free and open to all. Just a fraction of the proposed £7.8 million budget would go a long way in investing in the ranger service and improving facilities across the Chase.
Is this campaign important to you? Here's how to get involved...
Through social media, press and direct conversation with councillors we aim to ensure this disastrous plan that will hit the most vulnerable in our society the hardest will not go any further.
To get involved join the Save Cannock Chase group on Facebook and use the contact details below to get in touch with your local county councillor and MP to register your objections.
MP for Cannock Chase: [email protected]
Use this tool to find and contact your County Councillor
Media coverage of this campaign:
Group calling for roads on Cannock Chase to be reopened Express & Star 19 June 2020
Hundreds of people calling for road to re-open at Staffordshire beauty spot Staffordshire Newsletter 29 June 2020
Parking charges planned for Cannock Chase Express & Star 30 June 2020
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