Conference 2018 announced

We’re pleased to announce the Voice of Malvern Hills 2018 Conference.

We hope to see you there.

Advertisements

The GeoFest is back for 2017

 2017 geofest poster
The GeoFest 2017 of the Abberley and Malvern Hills GeoPark will take place between Saturday 27th May and Saturday 2nd September. The programme of exciting events being offered by the GeoPark’s partners is available on the GeoPark’s website: http://geopark.org.uk/pub/2015/10/calendar-of-events/.  The festival kicked off with a fossil friendly weekend at Bewdley Museum. On Saturday and Sunday 27th and 28th May, visitors to the Museum were able to make their own fossil cast and also see some of the real fossils from the Museum’s collection.  There are many more fossil themed events at the museum to follow, such as the Rock and Fossil Hunt on 2 July and a “Rocks and Fossils Challenge” running throughout the Summer holiday, on various dates. In addition, there will be a free exhibition on “Stunning landscapes from Space”, running from 22 July until 24 September. The GeoFest will feature numerous events across a variety of venues across the region of the GeoPark, inside and out. Why not take a look at the calendar of events to find out whether there is something you can visit or take part in to widen your knowledge of the GeoPark and/or to have some fun?

Herefordshire Rocks!

bookcover Herefordshiregeology

HEREFORDSHIRE’S ROCKS & SCENERY: A GEOLOGY OF THE COUNTY

 Edited by John Payne, Logaston Press 2017, rrp. £15.00.

This is a splendid account of the geology and landscape of Herefordshire and amazingly, the first all-embracing account of the geology of the county ever to appear in print!

The authors are all members of the Hereford-based Woolhope Club, which was founded in early years of the 19th century. They are to be congratulated on writing in a style which makes a complex subject accessible to the general reader. A comprehensive glossary helps to explain some of the inevitable technical jargon.

The early chapters set the scene, including an account of the geology to be seen from five prominent hills in the county, and some basic geological concepts.

The bulk of the book is devoted to the geological evolution of the county. This begins with an account of the Precambrian, with a major focus on the geology of the Malvern Hills and concludes with a review of the impact of the Anglian and Devensian glaciations on landscape and river systems.

The book is superbly illustrated with many well-executed block diagrams and excellent photographs, including some stunning aerial views. These are an essential part of the book’s appeal.

Finally, “Voice” member, John Payne, must be congratulated for his hard work, patience and diplomatic skills in bringing together the contributions from a variety of authors and graphics experts. The Geology section of the Woolhope Club are most fortunate to have an outstanding editor in their midst.

Voice Conference Returns to Malvern Cube

Voice of the Malvern Hills is delighted to be hosting a second conference on “Understanding the Malvern Hills”, after hosting such a successful event last year. At our Spring AGM we agreed to focus on our second aim this year, which is “… to promote an understanding of the natural landscape, archaeology, flora and fauna of the hills.” Our second conference promises to deliver the goods, with an excellent line up of speakers and talks.  There will be two talks on the geology of the Hills, which is a very popular subject here in Malvern. This is largely thanks to Richard Edwards, who has been delivering geology lectures to over 100 U3A students for the last 10 years. We are delighted that there will be another talk by an archaeologist at this year’s conference too. This year, Jane Evans, who currently works for the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, will be delivering a lecture on the iron age and Roman pottery production in the Malvern area.

phurle

Voice is particulaly pleased that Pamela Hurle has agreed to speak at the conference. Pamela Hurle is a very popular and well known speaker in the Malvern area. Pamela is extremely well placed to talk about the history of conservation on the hills as she is the author of the text “Malvern Hills: A Hundred Years of Conservation”(available to purchase on Amazon). Pamela is meticulous in her research and has become highly respected as a local historian. Pamela will be bringing a selection of her many books to the conference, which will be available for purchase on the day.

Finally, Voice is very pleased to be hosting a lecture on the birdlife of the Malvern Hills. At last year’s conference the attendees were extremely impressed by the talk on the flora of the Malvern Hills given by Peter Garner.  A number of Voice members asked whether we could find someone to talk about the birdlife at this year’s conference. Fortunately, Mick Colquhoun, the County Recorder for birds in Herefordshire, agreed to come and talk at this year’s conference, at the request of Voice. We know that there are quite a number of Voice members who will be attending the conference in order to learn more about this subject from Mick. We hope that we will see you there too! See Voice Conference 2016 .

Tony Gives Thumbs Up to Tramper

Members will know that the third aim of Voice is “… to encourage people of all abilities to access the hills.”  However, in our first year our efforts were concentrated on campaigning against the proposal for a cable car to be built on the hills. Meanwhile, staff from the organisation Jamboree, who work at Cafe H2O, at the Wyche Cutting, were busy trying to raise money to purchase a Tramper (an all terrain mobility scooter), so that those with impaired mobility could access part of the Malvern Hills.  In April of this year, Jamboree succeeded, having obtained funds and support from a number of partners, including the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Malvern Hills Conservators. The local news report can be found here:  Malvern Gazette

Since April 2016, those with impaired mobility can hire the Tramper from Cafe H2O (Cafe H2O) and travel up to the Worcestershire Beacon, via the tarmac track. In order to do so, users need to join the organisation Countryside Mobility. Countryside Mobility has Trampers located throughout the UK, in order to enable people to access the countryside at close hand, rather than just from the seat of a car. By joining, members are able to hire Trampers from all of these locations. Once a member, you then have to pay an additional hire charge for the hire of one of its Trampers. The hire fee pays for the upkeep of the scooter, the annual insurance, the cost of recharging the batteries each day, and so on. Click here for the story about the Malvern Hills’ Tramper on the website of Countryside Mobility: Countryside Mobility . From there, you can find all the information you need about joining Countryside Mobility.

tramper-tony-sept2016

In September, the Chair was walking on the Malvern Hills when he met Tony and his family. Tony was travelling on the Tramper, which he had hired from Cafe H2O. It was a beautiful Autumn day. Tony was able to take himself off up into the hills, spontaneously and independently, when the fine weather promised an enjoyable ride to the Worcestershire Beacon and stunning views from the summit. All this, thanks to the vision of the Jamboree staff. Tony told the Chair that he had supported the proposal for the construction of a cable car on the Malvern Hills, before the arrival of the Tramper at Cafe H20. However, since Tony has been able to hire the Tramper his views have changed.

The charity behind Countryside Mobility, Living Options Devon, established the Tramper hire scheme in order to empower those with a disability or Deaf people to lead the lives they choose. I had the benefit of using a Tramper when I visited the wonderful “Hannahs” at Seale Hayne, in Dartmoor. It was there that I learnt about the network of Trampers located throughout the Devon countryside (which is stunning, by the way). One of the partners of Countryside Mobility is the National Trust, which I would personally nominate as the charity, which has done the most in the UK to enable the mobile impaired to access nature and wildlife. The National Trust has mobility scooters for hire for free, upon paying an entrance fee to one of its sites, although not all are Trampers. It is always best to call ahead because often you need to book a scooter. Some National Trust properties are better than others. At some, there are no scooters or only one may be available, for a time restricted period. Croome, for instance, is one such property. Ickworth House in Suffolk, on the other hand, has quite a few trampers, which can be used for an entire day. With the “can do” attitude of Jamboree, Countryside Mobility and the National Trust, more and more of us with impaired mobility can get out into the fresh air to enjoy all that the outdoors has to offer, without so much as a cable car in sight.

Not so much a cable car as a “car crash”!

A financial report commissioned by Voice has shown that Malvern for All Ltd’s proposals for a cable car on the Malvern Hills are riddled with the most basic of accounting errors (The Proposed Malvern Cable Public). It might just be that the company spent too much time in their feasibility study (available on their website) trying to justify unjustifiable claims about the extent of disability in the UK and exaggerating the difficulty of disabled access to the Malvern Hills. It might just be that Malvern for All Ltd has zero accounting skills. Who knows? What we do know is that the two people behind Malvern for All Ltd should really send a donation to Voice as our report has saved them wasting any more time and saved their company from going bust.

Report cover

The report certainly makes for a chilling read. So let’s take a brief look at some its findings:

  • Instead of making a basic £1.7 million profit over twenty years for good causes in the local community, the reality is – using Malvern for All Ltd’s own figures – a loss of over £8 million. The company was able to create its profit forecasts by failing to recognise that televisions, washing machines, cars and even cable cars lose value over time. They depreciate. Providing for depreciation is the largest single factor in explaining why MFA’s profit forecasts are so wrong.
  • Malvern for All Ltd offers no evidence for its £4 million cost of building a cable car. Real world examples quoted in the report show that figure to be a woeful underestimate. Doubling the £4 million gets closer to reality. But even that might not be enough. Building anything on the rock and slopes of the Malvern Hills is far more complex than building in open countryside. Not only will that mean more money to borrow and more interest to pay, it also means even more depreciation, making even greater losses than forecast.
  • Another dodgy item is the unexplained and unjustified extra income of £100,000 per year (£2 million over twenty years) that Malvern for All Ltd calls franchise income. Franchise income is where business people pay a company a kind of royalty for the use of a brand name. McDonald’s is the obvious example. Using the power of the brand name generates extra income for business people running fast-food restaurants and business people are prepared to pay a fee to the owners of the brand name – the franchise fee. Who would pay a single penny for the exclusive use of the name “Malvern for All”?

With such dodgy figures as those used to justify the cable car, would you invest in it? And just in case you think you will be covered by the company, there is no share capital in the company. All the two owners have to do if (or when) things go pear-shaped, is pay in £1 each. That’s right. Their sole obligation, their only loss, is to pay in £1 each if things go wrong.