Ramblers Scottish and Welsh staff face the walk as the board looks at radical cost-cutting

Ramblers' Scottish and Welsh staff face the walk as the board looks at radical cost-cutting

A cash crisis could see the Ramblers reduced to a rump outside England.

Staff in Scotland and Wales face the sack or pay cuts with proposals to lose 14 jobs and close the Scottish and Welsh offices. Angry members north of the border say they may consider breaking away from the charity, which campaigns for walkers’ rights.

Proposals believed to have been agreed by the Ramblers’ board would see Scotland and Wales left with just two staff each, working from home and on reduced wages.

Ramblers Scotland president Dennis Canavan said every member would be approached to stump up cash to make up a £300,000 shortfall. The Scottish section of the charity faces having its budget cut to just £81,000. He said he would also be appealing to non-members to support the cash-call to try to save the Perth and Kinross-based organisation, which managed to secure one of the best right-to-roam laws in Europe with the passing of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act. England and Wales’s Countryside and Rights of Way Act is a far weaker piece of legislation.

Ramblers Scotland president, former MSP Dennis Canavan

Ramblers Scotland president, former MSP Dennis Canavan

Mr Canavan called the decision of the London board a ‘very hasty and ill-informed decision’.

The Ramblers blame the need to make cuts on the recession which, they said, has reduced their revenue. In March this year, the organisation went through a major ‘rebranding’ exercise, dropping the ‘Association’ from its title and putting more emphasis on urban walking – a move away from its traditional role supporting walkers’ access battles and supporting rural walking routes. The Ramblers’ Association grew out of the many local clubs formed in the first half of the 20th century which saw as their central role the right of workers from northern cities to escape the horrors of industrial cities for the hills and countryside.

There has been a further change in emphasis to encouraging more take-up of walking, including the Ramblers Scotland campaign in the run-up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which may be put at risk by the proposed cuts.

Pledges of cash from the Ramblers’ 7,500 Scottish members will be needed before the end of next month if the job cuts are to be avoided.

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