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November 15, 2018
 

When Dom Hunt discovered an old broken gate hanging off its hinges on Hexham Lane he didn't just roll his eyes and curse the council. He did something about it, with the help of Northumbria TRF. We caught up with NTRF Chairman Greg Villalobos to find out how the club is forging new relationships with the local council.

 

TRF:

Wasn’t Hexham Lane the green road that was part of the big fundraising campaign?

Greg:

That’s right. Hexham Lane is in the north of England in County Durham. It’s one of a small number that connect North Yorkshire with Northumberland. In 2015 the TRF orchestrated a fundraising campaign to help take legal action that eventually resulted in it being re-opened. A big win the trail riders.

TRF:

So how has it been used since it’s re-opening?

Greg:

Trail riders around the north have enjoyed using it. We’ve been mindful of weather conditions but thankfully with the summer we’ve just had the surface has fared very well. We’ll need to keep an eye on things as we go into winter.

TRF:

What’s the story with the gate then?

Greg:

Traditionally the TRF and local authorities tend to meet over boardroom tables in public hearings and legal conversations. That’s fine and indeed necessary a lot of the time. However there is another way. Over the last few years Northumbria TRF took a strategic decision to try and build more amicable relations with our local authorities, having a chat over a coffee to see how we can work together to maintain the green road resources that we are both invested in.

Hexham-Lane-Gates-01

Durham County Council contractors get busy

Hexham-Lane-Gates-04

The dream team. Dom, Dave, Eric.


 
 
One of our members, Dominic Hunt noticed that two of the gates on Hexham Lane were in a very poor state. At a club meeting he suggested that Northumbria TRF might want to do something about this and either repair or replace the gate. It was an interesting idea - some members being very much for the initiative and some feeling that it wasn’t our job to fix farmers gates for them, which is a very fair point. After some discussion we decided that we’d see if we could make this work and reach out to help Durham County Council as part of our initiative to position ourselves as a resource for the local authority, who to be honest are very resource stretched.

TRF:

So did you physically replace the gate?

Greg:

No, we didn’t actually do the work. I spoke to Audrey Christie, Senior Rights of Way Officer at Durham County Council and we agreed that for us to do the work would require permits etc that we didn’t really have the energy or time to achieve.

It was much simpler for DCC to do the work and for us to donate funds to cover the cost. NTRF put in £150 to cover the cost of the gate and DCC covered the labour costs.

TRF:

It all sounds quite simple then!

Greg:

Yes it was really. We identified a need. We went to the council with an ‘ask’ as well as a financial contribution. They said yes. A couple of months later it was done. Plus we were able to put our NTRF sign on the gate which is all part of the positive TRF message.

TRF:

What’s next?

Greg:

Well, there’s some good energy in NTRF right now, with more and more members stepping up to take on responsibilities and ideas. I’d like to think that now we have this model of working under our belt we will be able to work more closely with the rights of way teams at Durham and Northumbria. I genuinely believe that our club (and others) can become a valuable resource for authorities as a proactive and responsible user group.

Hexham-Lane-Gates-07

Spreading the TRF vibes

2 Comments

  1. Why did you not fit a horse latch so the gate can be opened by riders of horses and bikes, without the need to dismount?

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