CT Access Policy - A WCA contradiction

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Jules
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CT Access Policy - A WCA contradiction

Post by Jules »

Following the JJ's thread, and particularly the discussions on how it relates to the Tryweryn, I have been thinking about the situation we currently have at CT.

A quick synopsis of the CT set up for those who don't know. The centre is managed by the WCA, with all profits going to fund their work. It is a dam release river. Paddlers pay a £14 (£7 for WCA/BCU etc members) 'water fee' which provides 'access to the entire river (from the Centre to Bala)' plus use of a few other facilities, for a day.

The WCA are currently running a high profile access campaign, with the aim of getting legislation which would 'enshrine access rights and responsibilities for the public to and along natural resources' however at CT policy is quite clearly to charge for such access. So...

Does this seem a bit hypocritical to anyone else?
Does such a contradiction not play into the hands of the 'anti' lobby?
In order to remain consistent with its access demands, should the WCA publicly state that any charge made at CT is for car parking & showers and not for river access and, as such, people not using the CT facilities do not have to pay to access to the river?

It is the WCA AGM tomorrow, maybe this obvious anomaly in the Association's policy needs to be questioned?


Jules

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Adrian Cooper
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Post by Adrian Cooper »

The top section is clearly a manufactured facility. It used to be natural but is not any more. If you use this part of the river it is just the same as using HPP, Teesside or Nene. You get parking, changing, showers, cafe etc.

Once you are past Chapel I think a wholely different scenario exists and whilst you may avail yourselves of parking and changing for which you should pay a fee, I cannot see the justification for paying for running the river. Certainly not under the WCA stated policy.

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Post by Andy Purcell »

After my misplaced JJ's thread hope this is in the right place.

I have to agree with Adrian for the top section and pay. For the lower river the only service I should pay for is parking and used of center facilites. The current situation does seem to be at odd's with the WCA postion on access, or at least could be used by those in the "other side" of the access debate.

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Post by Jules »

Adrian Cooper wrote:The top section is clearly a manufactured facility. It used to be natural but is not any more. If you use this part of the river it is just the same as using HPP, Teesside or Nene. You get parking, changing, showers, cafe etc.

Once you are past Chapel I think a wholely different scenario exists and whilst you may avail yourselves of parking and changing for which you should pay a fee, I cannot see the justification for paying for running the river. Certainly not under the WCA stated policy.
The top section has indeed been modified....but has not every river in Wales? Do we accept that we want free access unless the landowner has moved a few rocks about and cut back a tree or two. At what point do we decide whether a river is a 'manufactured facility'. Should there be a charge to paddle at Hurley?

Surely we either accept that landowners (etc) have a right to charge us to paddle on 'their' rivers or we not, regardless of what modifications they may carry out?

Jules

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Re: CT

Post by Jules »

Andy Purcell wrote:The current situation does seem to be at odd's with the WCA postion on access, or at least could be used by those in the "other side" of the access debate.
This is the case even for the upper section. Regardless of what CT have done, this is still a river, and the WCA policy is that we should have access rights along rivers. So why are they charging me?
Charge me for car parking, charge me for using the changing room, charge me for using the showers, but don't be hypocritical and charge me to paddle a river!

Jules

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Post by Grumpy old man »

Hi
I have no problem with paying to use the upper site because I'm not just passing through, I'm stopping playing walking back up and doing it all over again. I'm using there land as well as the river. Am I wrong in thinking that the access campaign is for right of passage only. As regards the changing rooms I don't think I've ever used them. But then you could argue that the general non paddling public use just as much of the facilities, Toilets, car park, footpaths, etc, without paying anything.
I do disagree with trying to charge for paddling the lower section, especially having to pay car park fees again at Bala.
Last edited by Grumpy old man on Fri Oct 12, 2007 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by SJ »

To quote from my own post in the JJ's thread, which applies equally to CT:
I would expect to receive no hassle if I simply paddle through the site on my way downstream. On the other hand, if I stop to play or walk back up over private land or any other activity that is not necessary for my safe progress downstream then I should expect to pay the owner for the privilege.
What do we mean by "access"?

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Post by Jules »

Grumpy old man wrote: But then you could argue that the general non paddling public use just as much of the facilities, Toilets, car park, footpaths, etc, without paying anything.
I don't think you would have to argue that point at all, it is truth. I know for a fact that the site sees many thousands of people each year that never get on the water. These people use the facilities and pay nothing, yet canoeists, those the WCA are supposedly trying to encourage, are being charged.
Rhod from JJ thread wrote: There will never be free access to all rivers while we are still expected to pay for the one 'owned' by the WCA (Tryweryn).

As I understand it, the money paid for releases goes on securing dates for competitive paddling? Don't the EA own top car park? Doesn’t the river releases most days in the summer for environmental reasons?

(questions not facts)

If this is the case, if you get on at the top car park and paddle into town, on a normal summers day when the river would release anyway, what exactly are you paying for?

The site is fantastic for teaching, but when those who you are teaching are expected to join the BCU, or pay £14 a pop, it gets quite pricey for a weekends boating for people getting into the sport.

The site is a great one. I would argue perhaps not good value for money, setting a poor precedent that it is only natural other sites like JJ's would want to follow.
Someone else who sees error in the WCA's ways.

Jules

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Paul Stewart
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Post by Paul Stewart »

Are there not other examples throughout the UK of "paying" for access though. Washburn, Dart, Norfolk Broads are a few examples.

I also believe that every BCU member pays for access through its membership. Membership to the BCU also covers your British Waterways licence too. Are the BCU therefore at odds with their campaign?

I personally don't have a problem paying for access where their are clear facilities for me to use - changing/ showers/lockers/parking, footpaths to trundle back and forth on.

This is a managed facility which regardless who uses it - public/rafters/canoeists, still has costs to bare to maintain these, and as a private enterprise - a profit to make.

As for the comparisons with JJ's - if I'm floating through - I don't pay, If I park and change there then I expect to. Is the road to the Chipper not private so therefore it would be difficult to gain access to without using the CT facility?

Access to rivers centres around the right to navigate freely, if landowners put a pay and display car park at the start/finish then I would expect to pay, as any walker/rider does to the National Trust and many other private car parks created in tourist honey pots. If I don't use their facility I don't feel I need to pay.
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Back in the good old days...

Post by Pam Bell »

When I first paddled Tryweryn the only facilities were a corrugated iron shack just big enough to hold two ultra-basic changing rooms with one shower and one w.c. in each - there was a minute office which I seem to remember you had to stand outside and talk through the doorway if anyone else was in there.



The paddling experience was more akin to a wild river, as releases were unpredictable in terms of volume as well as scheduling.



We loved it!



Things have changed almost beyond recognition. Improved facilities, car-parking, in-river works, day to day management, scheduling of releases... Along with this the pattern of use by paddlers and rafters has changed, and we now have regular access to the lower river.



I hope most paddlers think that the changes improve the Tryweryn experience. However, it would probably be fair to say that at times policy has had to run to keep up with developments.



I've been following this thread and those that led to it with interest. It's good to hear paddlers giving their views, but don't assume that the WCA board will all read this. Don't just tell each other what you think - TELL US!



Someone pointed out that the WCA's AGM is tomorrow. It's in Bala, so the perfect opportunity to paddle the river first then come to the meeting.



If you really can't get to the AGM, or are not a WCA member, letters sent by pm from this thread or emailed direct to pamwca@btconnect.com will be brought to the attention of the board. If there are a large number of letters, the various views will be collated and presented as appropriate.



See you tomorrow?



Cymdeithas Ganwa Cymru - Welsh Canoeing Association
Notice of Annual General Meeting
The Association’s Annual General Meeting is to be held on Saturday 13th October 2007 at 6pm at Penllyn Leisure Centre, Pensarn Road, Bala, LL23 7SR.

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Post by Jules »

Paul Stewart wrote:Are there not other examples throughout the UK of "paying" for access though. Washburn, Dart, Norfolk Broads are a few examples.
I also believe that every BCU member pays for access through its membership. Membership to the BCU also covers your British Waterways licence too.
The Broads are different as there it is a legal requirement that all craft have a valid licence, as is the case I believe for the British Waterways network. There is no charge to access the Dart (even those who choose to follow the Dart access agreement are only paying an admin fee and not an access fee). I don't know the situation at the Washburn so can't comment.
Paul Stewart wrote:Are the BCU therefore at odds with their campaign?
This is a thread in its own right!!
I am deliberately trying to stick to the WCA here as they have a clear access policy which, in my opinion, they are not adhering with their policy for charging for access at CT.
Paul Stewart wrote:I personally don't have a problem paying for access where their are clear facilities for me to use - changing/ showers/lockers/parking, footpaths to trundle back and forth on.
There it is, right there. Did you spot it? No. Let me replay it....
Paul Stewart wrote:I personally don't have a problem paying for access...
That statement basically concedes that you do not have a right to paddle down any river which has no formal Right of Navigation. You are accepting that someone has the right to charge you to access a river. This is the mindset we have to overcome.

We, as a community, should be happy to pay for the facilities which centres such as the CT, JJ's or any other enterprising landowner, wishes to put in place to make our lives a little easier, but we should never agree to pay for access. The moment we do we send out the message that, although we are all saying we have a right to access, we don't actually believe it.

CT is run by the WCA. CTs policy is set by the WCA. Therefore if the WCA believes that we have a right to access, it needs to demonstrate this be not charging for people to access the Tryweryn. Come on WCA lead by example.
Paul Stewart wrote:This is a managed facility which regardless who uses it - public/rafters/canoeists, still has costs to bare to maintain these, and as a private enterprise - a profit to make.
Absolutely, and I would be happy to pay for car parking, changing and shower facilities, ice creams, hell, I would even put money in a collection box, so long as I was not charged for access to the river (my river...it says so on my t-shirt, as produced and sold by the WCA).
Don't forget that 1 raft probably pays more than 20 (full paying) paddlers, so we are not talking about CTs main source of income here!
Paul Stewart wrote:As for the comparisons with JJ's - if I'm floating through - I don't pay, If I park and change there then I expect to.
Paying to use their facilities (however ropey!) is something I wholeheartedly encourage!
Paul Stewart wrote:Is the road to the Chipper not private so therefore it would be difficult to gain access to without using the CT facility?
I'm not sure about this. Anyone know?
Paul Stewart wrote:Access to rivers centres around the right to navigate freely, if landowners put a pay and display car park at the start/finish then I would expect to pay, as any walker/rider does to the National Trust and many other private car parks created in tourist honey pots. If I don't use their facility I don't feel I need to pay.
At the end of the day Paul I think we are actually in agreement, it is just you haven't disassociated access with available facilities yet. Its not a big leap, there is hope for you yet!. Pay for facilities, not for access, simple.

Jules

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Post by kendomat »

Just thinking? maybe completely wrong.....

HPP is a completely manufactured conrete tub, Tryweryn is not... The river flows I would think where it always has done...


Were these projects (hpp, tees) not by products of biiger projects of redoing / making barrages

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Post by clarky999 »

I don't mind paying for the upper section - I beleive that the extent the river has been improved, and managed (trees cutting back etc) is worth paying for, and fair to charge for. Were there not a load of recent improvements at NRA wave? Which has made it a lot better?

I won't pay for the lower section - you don't see any of this sort of management, and it is still a wild river. I also won't pay to paddle the Dart.

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Post by Paul Stewart »

Jules wrote: At the end of the day Paul I think we are actually in agreement, it is just you haven't disassociated access with available facilities yet. Its not a big leap, there is hope for you yet!. Pay for facilities, not for access, simple.
Couldn't agree more! It was the point I was trying to make (note to self to try harder before posting!)
Paul

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Post by Jules »

clarky999 wrote:I don't mind paying for the upper section - I beleive that the extent the river has been improved, and managed (trees cutting back etc) is worth paying for, and fair to charge for. Were there not a load of recent improvements at NRA wave? Which has made it a lot better?

I won't pay for the lower section - you don't see any of this sort of management, and it is still a wild river. I also won't pay to paddle the Dart.
Here we go again.
Clarky, the point is not about whether it is fair to pay because they have done xyz, the point is whether they have a right to charge for access. Regardless of what they have done to the river, do CT have the right to charge you to paddle down any part of the Tryweryn? If the answer to that is yes then every person who owns/leases land with a river flowing over it has the same right because rights under property law are not dictated by whether someone has improved a play wave or not! The WCA, through CT, need to be making it quite clear that they believe that no-one has the right to charge for access to a river. They need to practice what they preach.

If CT stop charging for access, it is still in their best interest to to make the Upper Tryweryn more inviting to paddlers by improving features as more paddlers = more revenue as people will be charged to use the centre's facilities instead.

Someone please tell me I am making sense here!

Jules

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Post by Grumpy old man »

Jules wrote:[
If CT stop charging for access, it is still in their best interest to to make the Upper Tryweryn more inviting to paddlers by improving features as more paddlers = more revenue as people will be charged to use the centre's facilities instead.

Someone please tell me I am making sense here!

Jules
Hi Jules
In an ideal world everything you say makes sense, but I don't think boaters would pay. I for one never use the changing rooms now, so if I didn't have to pay to get on the river they wouldn't get any money out of me at all. They could charge for parking but if they charged £10 a car and there's 4 people in the car they would be £18 down from the way it operates now that's providing we are all BCU/WCA members . Knowing boaters, I'm one, I'd park the car somewhere else and walk in. If we want ct to remain as it is, a play ground, I think we have to pay.

Grumpy

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Post by wiresno2 »

The CT is run mainly for rafts, when ever we want to slide down the access ramp by the chipper the rafts pull up and the guides force there way to the front. charging £7 I thinki is quite steep as the rafts are why they get the releases, the raft guides dont think about the safety of any kayakers as ive seen them blatently ram kayaks out of there way as they think they own the river !

I think paying at such venues should be set out in certain price plans for example pay and display car park for all users.

Pay as you use showers and changing facilities thus bringing the price down for the kayakers who like to change out doors !

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Post by Jules »

Grumpy old man wrote:
Jules wrote:[
If CT stop charging for access, it is still in their best interest to to make the Upper Tryweryn more inviting to paddlers by improving features as more paddlers = more revenue as people will be charged to use the centre's facilities instead.

Someone please tell me I am making sense here!

Jules
Hi Jules
In an ideal world everything you say makes sense, but I don't think boaters would pay. I for one never use the changing rooms now, so if I didn't have to pay to get on the river they wouldn't get any money out of me at all. They could charge for parking but if they charged £10 a car and there's 4 people in the car they would be £18 down from the way it operates now that's providing we are all BCU/WCA members . Knowing boaters, I'm one, I'd park the car somewhere else and walk in. If we want ct to remain as it is, a play ground, I think we have to pay.

Grumpy

I agree, income from paddlers would drop. They would need to explore other revenue streams. They may even end up with less money. But if the WCA are going to prove to the world (particularly the Welsh Assembly) that they are serious about gaining a right to free access to the rivers of Wales, they had better get their house in order first.

I personally believe that gaining access to Welsh rivers is the most important issue in paddlesport in the UK at the moment (and we've got issues!). Crack Wales and England will follow, and Wales is a reality. The Welsh assembly have the power to pass legislation which will open up the river, and if pushed a little they will use it. But there is a strong anti lobby, and we don't need to be giving them any ammunition, and that is just what the WCA are doing each time they charge someone to access the Tryweryn. They need to wake up to this. It might mean less money, but the ultimate rewards are far far greater than that, they are about freedom to paddle. Surely that is what the WCA is about.

Jules

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Post by filo »

I completly agree with Jules ,I personaly dont pay to paddle at CT and would not pay to any paddle a river. I do however use the cafe and spend money there I also stop off at the cafe when out with freinds on motorbikes and again put money in that way, then you get freinds and family of rafters who use the cafe, CT is as wires puts it for the rafters they seem to have right of way and I pesonaly think they maintain the river and features for the rafts or they would also maintain the lower aswell e.g move fallen trees quicker. I dont use the changing rooms but if I did then I would be happy to pay a fee for that, I would also pay for parking (which is something I hate doing) providing it was a reasonanble charge.
Also I understand that the dam was built to supply water to the dee for a few reasons (drinking water for north west, keeping the dee moving over chester wier), so it would release anyway ,also when it fills up it has to release.
I am not familier with the right to roam laws for walkers and probably should read up but I am sure that I now have the right to roam (dressed in funny clothes and skirt with a kayak over shoulder)to the river bank, the water falls from the sky so therfore its not owned and i can float down it without having to pay anyone.

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Post by Chris Bolton »

I agree there seems to be an inconsistency in WCA charging people to paddle. However, at least the money is going to WCA and is used for the benefit of paddling. I may be wrong but I don't think the fees from general paddling are used to subsidise competitions - it's over 10 years since I ran a competition there - and the fees which were to be charged to a proposed world championship were so high it was abandoned.

How would people react to the idea that WCA

- charge people for the facilities they provide (car park, changing, etc) and also
- ask people to make a donation to the access campaign - in recognition that they are able to paddle Tryweryn (arguably) with less hassle then the rest of Wales?

Chris

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Post by Rick Foster »

I would go for that, much fairer imho.

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Post by Grumpy old man »

Hi
My reasoning on this subject has always been on the premise that the access campaign was to secure rights of passage, is it? I notice the WCA are using as their model the Scottish outdoor access code which on a short examination only talks about access and not just about rights of passage, to the extent where even wild camping is allowed on Lochs and Riverside, always emphasising, and rightly so, being considerate to other users.
Mmmm not too sure now. perhaps they are being a little hypocritical.

I certainly think they should provide a free access point to the lower part of the river. To suggest you have to pay for access to paddle the lower river does stick in my throat more than a little.
Grumpy
Last edited by Grumpy old man on Sat Oct 13, 2007 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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WCA post

Post by Martyn Read »

The post from Pambell of the WCA is good to see. I'm supprised no one has yet mentioned her post.

Anyway I have sent her a PM as she suggests. I've simply asked her to ask at todays AGM for the WCA to clarrify what the charge to paddle the Tryweryn is actually for.

I hope everyone else has PMed or emailed her too, as we can debate all day what it might be for. Lets get an answer from the horses mouth.

Martyn

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Re: CT

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wiresno2 wrote: the rafts are why they get the releases
This isn't the case. The river is part of the Dee management system, charged with keeping the Dee at a certain level at Chester Weir, due to industrial and water supply needs in the North West. There is a facility for CT to 'buy' water if they have a particularly busy weekend but no release is scheduled.
the raft guides dont think about the safety of any kayakers as ive seen them blatently ram kayaks out of there way as they think they own the river !
Walk a mile in someone else's shoes...

As for CT charging for river access, this is an issue of semantics, surely. If the 'river ticket' was retitled a 'facilities ticket', would that be better?

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Post by James F »

People who complain about paying CT £7 for some fairly obvious benefits are probably of the same ilk as those who complained about paying £2 for the RDCP car park.

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Post by Big Henry »

Grumpy old man wrote:...you could argue that the general non paddling public use just as much of the facilities, Toilets, car park, footpaths, etc, without paying anything.
Grumpy old man wrote:They could charge for parking but if they charged £10 a car and there's 4 people in the car they would be £18 down from the way it operates now that's providing we are all BCU/WCA members.
I can't be the only one that's connected these two statements? If they charge for parking, everyone who used it would pay, not just paddlers.
filo wrote:I do however use the cafe and spend money there I also stop off at the cafe when out with friends on motorbikes and again put money in that way, then you get friends and family of rafters who use the cafe
Surely this would more than make up for the loss of income from charging for access. (Although, at Grumpy old man's suggested price of a tenner a car, I wouldn't park there!)
Jules wrote:Someone please tell me I am making sense here!
Yep, seems good sense to me.

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Post by Big Henry »

Grumpy old man wrote:I have no problem with paying to use the upper site because I'm not just passing through, I'm stopping playing walking back up and doing it all over again. I'm using there land as well as the river. Am I wrong in thinking that the access campaign is for right of passage only.
My paddling experience is considerably less than practically everyone else on here, but I have done several sections on the Tees, and know that what I'm about to describe is far from unique. Out of the few times I've paddled Dog Leg/Salmon Leap Falls on the High Force-Low Force section, I've only ever seen ONE person paddle straight down it. Everyone else got out of their boats, walked/scrambled along the bank to the rapid, examined it, set up safety, then one by one went back to their boat to paddle it. Then they got back out of their boat, and either went and tried it again (successfully!), or made their way back to the rapid for safety cover for the rest of the group. From Grumpy old man's point of view, surely this would mean that whenever anyone gets out to examine any rapid and/or set up safety cover, then an access fee must be paid to the land owner(s)? You are using their land, as well as the river!

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Post by Pam Bell »

Thanks to those who have pm'd or emailed me.

When I checked my email just before I left early this morning to travel to Bala, I had not received any messages resulting from this thread, and I only picked them up when I returned. I believe I could only have asked questions at the AGM from WCA members, even if I had received any in time.

As previously promised, all the views and/or questions I receive on this subject (whether from members or non-members) will be raised with the WCA board at the first appropriate opportunity.

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Post by Jules »

Thanks Pam, I look forward to hearing what the board have to say.
James F wrote:People who complain about paying CT £7 for some fairly obvious benefits are probably of the same ilk as those who complained about paying £2 for the RDCP car park.
James, you really don't get the point of this thread do you! It is not about people complaining about paying CT £7! It is about an inconsistency with WCA policy, which, on the one hand, campaigns for free access to rivers, whilst, on the other, demands paddlers to pay for access to the Tryweryn. Whilst this double standard exists the WCA cannot expect their access campaign to be taken seriously by those who have the power to pass legislation.


Jules

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Post by James F »

Yes, you're right. I don't get it.

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