How did that scooter get up there?

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On Sunday 27th September, 50 members of ‘Voice’ walked to the top of Worcestershire Beacon to demonstrate their opposition to the cable car. It was a good occasion for sharing ideas and meeting other members and the weather was fantastic. For part of the way the Chair walked with Ann, who told him that this was the first time in her life that she had taken part in a demonstration. Ann feels that opposing the cable car is such an important issue that she had to join Voice’s protest walk.  Another person on the walk was Moira, who is concerned about the damage that would be done to the fragile scree in Rushy valley, a rare remnant of the ice age. Some of those who walked up from the Wyche car park held high a banner, with the message “Hands off our hills”. Those who passed by and read the banner told us that they agreed with the message and that they were also opposed to the cable car.

People of all ages took part in the event and walking sticks were much in evidence. However, it is abundantly clear that virtually anyone can reach the Beacon because there is a wide tarmac path to the top from the Wyche car park. Anna Silver, Secretary of ‘Voice’, was delighted to reach the summit on her everyday disability scooter. “It angers me that Malvern for All Ltd are trying to use disability as their excuse for a cable car. Look at me in the photo. I was not taken up by helicopter!”

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Time To Vote With Your Feet

2015 Sept 27 walk poster

This is the poster for our forthcoming walk, to protest against the proposal by Malvern For All Ltd to build a cable car, and associated buildings, on the Worcestershire Beacon. The image on the poster was drawn by local artist, Roy Jones, on behalf of Voice of the Malvern Hills. The original drawing by Roy is a simple sketch and has greater artistic merit than this colour version. Modern technology could not do justice to Roy’s sketch so that what you see here is Fresh Paint’s rendering of an original line drawing.

As can be seen, the image depicts a family group, taking a rest beside the toposcope, while enjoying the stunning views from the Worcestershire Beacon.  The image encapsulates the simple pleasure that can be had by taking a walk in the Malvern Hills and of the reward, when reaching the summit of the Beacon, of an incredible uninterrupted panoramic view. No hoards of tourists trampling the already fragile undergrowth are to be seen. The family has the toposcope entirely to itself. No artistic licence was needed in that respect. That is one of the great things about walking in the Malvern Hills. You will normally encounter other walkers, some joggers, plenty of dogs, maybe even some sheep. But on many occasions you can have the summit of the highest point in Worcestershire entirely to yourself.

Please see our campaigns page for further information about our campaign to stop Malvern For All Ltd building a cable car on the Worcestershire Beacon.

Understanding the Malvern Hills

One of David Attenborough’s well known quotes came to mind today at the Members’ Meeting of Voice of the Malvern Hills: “If people lose knowledge, sympathy and understanding of the natural world, they’re going to mistreat it and will not ask their politicians to care for it.”

This is one of the reasons why Voice has been working hard over the Summer months in order to bring together a host of expert speakers for a one day conference at Malvern Cube on 1st November 2015 ( 2015 conference programme). As can be seen from the list of talks and speakers, the Voice conference is set to stimulate and excite its delegates. We hope that the range of talks, and expert speakers, from the Malvern Conservators, the Herefordshire Council Archaeology Service, the Earth Heritage Trust, and beyond, will provide those attending the event with a greater sympathy for and knowledge and understanding of the Malvern Hills.

We hope that this knowledge, sympathy and understanding will galvanise more people into taking action to care for, conserve and communicate about the incredible landscape of the Malvern Hills. Let us ensure that when neccessary, the Malvern Conservators and Councillors for Malvern Hills and Worcestershire, hear our voices loud and clear. Furthermore, may talks, such as those to be given at the forthcoming conference, ensure that we pass on that sympathy, knowledge and understanding to others so that they can also cherish this stunning part of the British countryside instead of mistreating it.

Tickets for the conference can be purchased from Malvern Cube and the Malvern Conservators.

A rose by any other name

The Chair of “Voice” had a letter published in the Gazette on 17 July 2015, which draws attention to an important omission in the name of Malvern For All. The text of the letter can be found here: http://www.malverngazette.co.uk/news/letters/13417601.Cable_car_group_has_financial_aims/

What has been missing from the name of a company, directed by 2 (previously 3) Malvern businessmen? The word “Limited”. What, you may ask, is the significance of Companies House’s insistence that Malvern For All change its name to Malvern For All Ltd? Does the brand name now sound as sweet? Indeed not. Instead of being a social or charitable enterprise, the Articles of Association of the limited company that is Malvern For All Ltd, reveal the strictly commercial nature of this endeavour. Furthermore, by choosing to create a limited company, the original 3 directors of MFA Ltd chose to limit their liability to the grand sum of £1.00 each. This is exactly the same sum of money that members have paid to join Voice of the Malvern Hills. Given the time of year, you might be able to grab a bargain at Lidl and purchase a punnet of strawberries for this princely sum. Maybe you could pick up a small loaf of bread from Colston’s? How far could you stretch a £1.00?  It may come as a surprise to many, to learn that if MFA Ltd went bust at any time during the construction of a cable car to the Worcestershire Beacon, that its 3 directors would only forfeit £1.00. How many £1.00’s of taxpayers’ money would it take in order for Malvern Hills District Council to complete or remove a half-finished project? How many homes would those millions build? How many schools? How many day-care facilities? What number and size of grants to local charities who undertake valuable work in the community?

These are the questions we need to be asking ourselves when we consider the merits of permitting MFA Ltd to construct a cable car on the hills. Will MFA Ltd be able to deliver on its promises when spm many other organisations have failed to do so? The fate of the London cable car, Boris Johnson’s much feted vision for Transport for London, cost more than double the original estimate. Half of the cost of the cable car was funded out of the budget of Transport for London. Imagine how many lifts in how many underground and overground stations could have been installed with that money? How many more elderly and disabled passengers, how many more parents pushing pushchairs and tourists wielding suitcases could have been given access to how many stations across Transport for London’s network?

Even if someone may be in favour of a cable car in principle, they can still be highly critical when staring the hard facts and figures in the face. Voice of the Malvern Hills is opposed to any taxpayers’ money paying for a cable car on the Malvern Hills. We believe that far greater access to the hills could be provided to those with limited mobility if MFA Ltd banded together with the Malvern Hills Conservators and the District Council and provided a number of off road mobility scooters for members of the public to hire. Those familiar with Shopmobility schemes found in towns, other than Malvern, will understand the model we favour. Thus, in addition to a Shopmobility scheme in Malvern, which the town is currently lacking, Voice would like to see a “Hillability” scheme. I think that that is something that we would all be happy to spend at least £1.00 each towards.

Cable car would threaten unique geology of Malvern Hills

Moira Jenkins sent a letter to the Malvern Gazette, voicing her concerns with respect to Malvern For All’s proposal to install a cable car on the Malvern Hills. That letter can be found here: http://www.malverngazette.co.uk/news/letters/12873436.Cable_car_would_threaten_unique_geology_of_Malvern_Hills/

The letter demonstrates that there is a further reason to protect this area against commercial development, namely, its unique geology. The particular section of the hills described in the letter can be seen in this photograph, taken by John Payne (with thanks). To the uneducated, it is an uninteresting slope, which would not have us reaching for our cameras, even in the age of digital photography. However, for those with a keen eye for geological features, the section of scree captured in this picture is something to get pulses racing. The scree is a relic of the Ice Age climate and it is quite delicate. It would be badly damaged by the pylons needed to support a cable car. This emphasises the need for Voice, and others, to promote the special nature of the Malvern Hills and to help educate those of us who would not give a scree more than a second glance, were we even to notice one in the first place.

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