Our 'pioneer town’ wins accolade from oldest conservation body

Friday, 11 September 2009

Not only is Hebden Bridge is the 4th funkiest town in the world and the UK town with most local identity, but 'Hebden Bridge is a pioneer town - the first Walkers Are Welcome Town, and the first to register land as a new town or village green for the community.’

So says Kate Ashbrook, patron of the Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network and general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, who is speaking at the Walkers Are Welcome Weekend in Hebden Bridge (the Hole in t’Wall pub at 8.30pm on Saturday evening). More info about the weekend.

The Walkers Are Welcome Towns Network was established in 2007, and Hebden Bridge was the first WAW town, launched in February 2007. There are now 31 WAW in England, Scotland and Wales. The Open Spaces Society (formally the Commons, Open Spaces and Footpaths Preservation Society) was founded in 1865 and is Britain’s oldest national conservation body. It campaigns to protect common land, village greens, open spaces and public paths, and people’s right to enjoy them.

Steep Fields at Hebden Bridge was registered as a new town-green in January 1992, soon after it became possible to do so in August 1990. Local residents were extremely astute and moved swiftly to protect this lovely space. With the society’s help they persuaded Calderdale Council to put the land on the greens register, thereby saving it from development.(4)

‘Since then we have helped others in and around Hebden Bridge to save their spaces. And we have backed the excellent Friends of Nutclough Woods in their work to manage and maintain this wonderful local woodland.

‘Walkers Are Welcome status ensures that Hebden Bridge, with its spectacular yet intimate countryside, is truly on the walkers’ map. There’s a fascinating history, the paths are good, the views are breathtaking, the shops, pubs and cafés are welcoming and there are good public transport links.

‘So Hebden Bridge sets an excellent example to other communities. It shows that where local people work together they can make a real difference,’ Kate declares.

‘During the recession, walking remains a popular activity: it is relatively inexpensive and it helps to relieve stress. So Hebden Bridge and the other Walkers Are Welcome Towns are onto a winner.

‘It’s never been more important to ensure that paths, green spaces and access land are in good nick, for everyone to enjoy,’ says Kate.

See also:

Hebweb News - Walkers are Welcome weekend

Hebden Bridge Walkers Action

Walkers are Welcome


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