Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Magazine article The Spectator

Banned Wagon

Article excerpt

THERE is no more mischievous word in the bureaucrat's armoury than 'improve'. Ask yourself what exactly is being improved. and for whom. A government discussion paper, 'Improving Rights of Way in England and Wales', is dressed up as a sop to ramblers, when in fact it promises to make things more difficult for them, as well as for motorists and just about anybody else who values the freedom to move about.

The authoritarian measures are hidden deep within the document. Proposal 10 empowers local authorities to 'divert or close rights of way where this is necessary to meet the requirements of article 6 of the EC habitats directive'. In other words, if a great-crested newt should take a fancy to your lane, you are going to be making some long detours in future.

Proposals 13, 14 and 15 are more severe: they empower authorities permanently to close highways and footpaths 'where, on the basis of police advice, they are satisfied that such action is necessary to prevent persistent criminal activity@ or where it is 'necessary to protect the safety of the public'. …

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