Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Money, money, money

6th October 2015

Since the last blog there has been frantic activity at local, national and international level. The presentation I wrote about last time has now been presented to the full board of the National Park authority. This was to update them on the next 5 years of management and improvement. I’m happy to report that the presentation stimulated a great deal of interest and questions, many of which related to future funding.

Also locally last week there was a full staff meeting of all the South Downs National Park staff. Here there was much discussion about the need to make significant cuts to the overall budget and the need to generate additional income. I have also met up with National Trail Officers from around the country at our annual meeting, this year hosted by the Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast path. These are always really useful gatherings to share best practice and work on common issues. This year there was also much focus on future funding and income generation.

So its perfect timing that Walk Unlimited the national promotional lead for National Trails and host of this very website, has in partnership with all the National Trail Officers launched a new “Donation” button to the website. This is a great step as until now we have had no way of receiving any donations. The South Downs Way is funded by Central Government through Natural England grant and from the South Downs National Park Authority and the Local Highway Authorities as well as other small non-government grants and donations. All the public funds have been reduced in recent years and indications are for more significant cuts to come. This is because much of the work that we do to maintain and improve the trail and provide and maintain the website is not a statutory duty of government. We are therefore more reliant than ever other funding sources to continue to provide world class adventures free for all to enjoy. So please do consider donating and spread the word.

On a much lighter note you may have read an article from Bill Bryson in the Sunday Times magazine. He clearly loves the British countryside and particularly the South Downs Way, which he said is getting better and better!

I’ve also been communicating with trail colleagues from around Europe about Leading Quality trails accreditation, which I mentioned in my last blog. I’m now gathering information from individual trails about the merits of the scheme. More to follow on this I’m sure.

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National Trail Officers on Norfolk Coast Path