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Letter: Antiquated systems keeping the New Forest for the privilege of the few

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SIR – Again throughout the pages of your paper, I read of verderers, commoners, and Mr Pasmore deriding all the usual suspects for being allowed by Forestry England to make use of the Forest as a leisure asset and national park rather than a private and subsidised farm for a privileged few.

I see now they are looking to stop commercial campsites as well as wanting to mount a legal challenge to the campsites on Forest land.

As I own a bike, a dog, a car and camper van I fall squarely into every category of people these official groups seem to dislike and want to ban from the Forest.

The New Forest is a popular place for a host of activities
The New Forest is a popular place for a host of activities

Week after week individuals and organisations like Forestry England come under fire in your pages from such groups who are seemingly unable or unwilling to view the Forest as somewhere for us all to enjoy as well as for them to graze ever-increasing numbers of animals.

Indeed, such groups object to anyone or any organisation that does not maintain their own views.

There is good reason why commoning and verderers-style courts have long since disappeared from the vast majority of our nation – they are antiquated systems that do not represent or respond to the modern world or the majority of people.

However ancient and historic these things may be, they are not – as claimed – the only way of maintaining the fabric of the Forest in modern times.

They are though, perhaps more importantly, the only way of maintaining the benefit and privilege of the few – in this respect they do a good job!

Shutting facilities, shutting campsites, shutting car parks (and then fining verge parking), ditching and dragons’ teeth-ing laybys and any other possible parking options and now wanting to ban electric bikes too – obviously those purely pedal-powered ones are already on the list of things that should not be tolerated.

Next week we’ll be seeing a proposal for making all cars drive behind a man walking with a red flag.

Week after week the list of those who should not be allowed in the Forest grows!

Maybe this will continue until feudalism is fully reinstated, but hopefully some of these groups can learn to be more accommodating of others views instead of ever more talk of closures and bans.

Pete Sheppard,

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