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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 11:01 GMT
Ethnic group wants walks to stay
An ethnic minorities campaign group is urging a rethink of plans to scrap free walks in the Lake District.

The Lake District National Park Authority wants to axe 400 walks run by volunteer rangers.

It said walkers are too "white, middle class", but has agreed to a special meeting to discuss the plan.

But the Black Environment Network (Ben) said ditching walks is not the way forward and they are necessary to ensure visitors' safety.

'Encourage' groups

Ben and the Council for National Parks has just finished a three-year project called Mosaic trying to encourage ethnic minorities to visit the countryside.

Ben's UK director, Judy Ling Wong, said instead of scrapping the walks more effort should be put into encouraging different groups of people to get involved in them.

She said: "We found that for Asian and black people, getting involved was a learning process.

"For people already living in these countryside areas going up mountains is normal, but for beginners, from a safety point of view it can be daunting.

"I do not believe in scrapping programmes already in place, but to build on them and encourage different groups to take part.

32,000 saving

"For example certain religions would want all-women walking groups, which can be organised with a little bit of thought."

The Lake District authority said it would save 32,000 from the Park's 9m annual budget by scrapping walks.

This money is paid out in expenses to the 300 volunteers who act as guides on the walks.

Instead of rubber-stamping the decision to drop the walks, the authority said on Tuesday it will hold the special meeting to discuss the plan, within a month.




SEE ALSO:
Lake walkers too 'middle-class'
04 Jan 05 |  Cumbria


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