The bureaucrat in charge of England’s Lake District National Park wants to spend £8 million tarmacking over parts of the world-renowned beauty spot in order to make it more relevant to disabled people and ethnic minorities.
“We need surfaces to reflect” a changing society, Lake District boss Richard Leafe has declared.
For most of its several million years of existence, the Lake District has been characterised by picturesque lakes (Windermere, Ullswater, Buttermere, Boromir, etc) and rugged, challenging peaks such as the highest mountains in England, Scafell Pike and Helvellyn, now dotted with flocks of hefted sheep. Its magnificence has inspired writers including Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.
But according to Leafe, a geography graduate who has spent his career working for government quangos, looking natural and awe-inspiring is no longer enough. The Lakes need to be wokified for the 21st Century, so that more of the 20 million visitors it receives each year are young, disabled, or from ethnic minorities.
Leafe told Sky News:
We need to be able to sell the national park to everybody in Britain, all of society, and it’s important that it doesn’t just become exclusive to one single-use group…
The moment we get into that position I think national parks start to lose their relevance and therefore the very reason for calling it a national park and spending public money.
We are deficient in terms of young people, we are deficient in terms of black and minority ethnic communities and we are not particularly well-visited by those who are less able in terms of their mobility.
Our challenge is to see what we can do to reverse that, to encourage people from broader backgrounds and a wider range of personal mobilities into the national park to be able to benefit in the same way that those other groups do.
During his twelve years as the Lake District’s Chief Executive, Leafe has made himself extremely unpopular with those traditional sorts who believe this largely unspoilt region of lakes and hills should be left well alone.
His plans to erect a zip-wire over Thirlmere Reservoir went down badly — and after local protests the planning application was withdrawn in February 2018.
Others of his schemes have provoked similar outrage:
Mr Leafe has also come under fire from the site and others in the Lake District for recent decisions by the authority he leads, including the laying of asphalt on the track between Keswick and Threlkeld; support for the abortive plans to charge for wild camping; proposals for a chairlift at Whinlatter Forest and the decision to continue to allow motor vehicles to use two unsurfaced roads in Little Langdale.
Unfortunately for everyone who’d rather keep rural England looking the way it always did, Leafe’s politically correct wrecking schemes are entirely in tune with current Conservative government policy.
In 2018, the Theresa May government commissioned an “independent review” of England’s National Parks. Typically, May gave the lead role not to anyone of a remotely conservative persuasion but to a left-wing former Guardian journalist, Julian Glover.
Glover duly responded with a review brimful of woke pieties, invoking “climate change” and “access”.
The report was welcomed by another of the government’s left-wing quangocrat appointees, Tony Juniper (of the hard-left, deep-green activist charity Fiends of the Earth; now chairman of Natural England), who said:
These are the place that often spring to mind when people think about enjoying the natural world and by making them richer in wildlife as well as more accessible we can help people from all walks of life experience their inspirational beauty.
It’s those weasel phrases “more accessible” and “people from all walks of life” which go to the heart of the problem.
Embedded in British government policy and also in United Nations policy — the Lake District, since 2017, has suffered the curse of being a UNESCO World Heritage site — is the notion that equality and diversity and access should be shoehorned into every conceivable publicly-funded entity, even to the point where the damage done outweighs any notional benefits.
It ought to be a matter of plain common sense that a largely wild and unspoilt natural landscape is going to appeal mainly to able-bodied outdoors types and that, for obvious demographic reasons, these people are mainly going to be white.
Only the deranged mentality of the woke quangocrat, the luvvie-ish Guardian journalist or the sell-out Conservative-in-name-only surrender monkey politician could see this as a problem in need of correction.
There is something quite racist about this lake district stuff. I'm a person of colour a I love it for what it is. What is it that they think we want to change? We are capable of going somewhere and enjoying it for what it is without having to change it to be a mini London
— Judy Brown (@judybba) December 29, 2019
One of the key areas of fightback in 2020 will be the war of ordinary decent people to reclaim the culture which has been snatched away from by the liberal elite.
Meddling right-on quangocrats like Richard Leafe need to be held up to ridicule; Conservative government ministers who think it’s still OK to champion such liberal-leftist pieties need to be exposed and shamed.
The Lake District is one of England’s national treasures. Those who attempt to destroy it with their patronising virtue-signalling access schemes are dangerous vandals who deserve no mercy.
Never forget that WE are the silent majority.
I was 14 and definitely not white when I first fell in love with the Lake District. Vowed to return someday. It is perfect just the way it is!
— Jean 美玲🌿🙃 (@JeanElizabethML) December 30, 2019