In The Park

“It’s good to talk!” said Bob Hoskins in that famous BT advert from the mid ‘90s. It’s hard to remember that not so long ago the only effective means of communicating with someone remotely was either to use a BT landline or write them a letter.

Now, not only do we have a plethora of telecoms providers, we also have a plethora of media via which we can transmit our messages.

We can use mobile phones or send text messages (SMS). We can send an e-mail or use Facebook or Twitter or MMS and there are probably other methods I haven’t even heard of yet.

Sometimes, however, it’s best simply to go and meet people face-to-face. In the days following the recent local council elections there will have been lots of meetings held behind closed doors in authorities where there was no clear majority group.

Newly-elected councillors will have put some of their differences aside as they argued and debated the best type of coalition to take forward the interests of local people.

Members of the St Margaret’s Church Restoration Project Team from Braemar spent two days last week in beautiful Cromarty, on the Black Isle, meeting local residents who had restored a number of crumbling and disused buildings there, including the East Church, the Old Brewery and the Old Courthouse.

They also met people who had moved into the area and had set up arts and technology based businesses using these old buildings. And what an impressive group they were.

The Braemar Team wanted to learn from them and find out how best to tackle their own project and the opportunity to meet, talk and share ideas proved invaluable. In a very short time the two groups established common ground as they realised how similar were the issues they faced and how much they could benefit by collaborating and sharing.

E-mail addresses and mobile numbers were exchanged and arrangements were made for follow up reciprocal visits later in the summer.

Recently, board and staff members from both the Cairngorms and Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authorities met in Perth to share experiences and ideas for future work in Scotland’s two National Parks.

The parks are very different. One is based around Scotland’s largest body of water and is within easy reach of the country’s largest conurbation. The other is based around the wildest mountain range in the United Kingdom and is remote from any large centre of population.

Both parks have been set up very differently from the outset but their boards face similar challenges in delivering ambitious programmes of development with diminishing resources.

Both are charged with the responsibility of addressing simultaneously the four major aims of providing conservation, sustainability, enjoyment and economic growth.

These can at times appear to come into direct conflict with one another. There is then considerable benefit to be gained from sharing and collaborating in areas of common interest.

The two boards are now putting the finishing touches to their new National Park Plans, which will set their priorities and govern their work for the next five years.

In the Cairngorms, we have entitled ours the Cairngorms National Park Partnership Plan to emphasise the fact that the plan has emerged as the result of many conversations with our partner organisations and with the people who live in the Park. The Plan is not owned by the CNPA but by all who have an interest in the Park and who share in the responsibility for its delivery.

The plan will now be submitted to the Scottish Environment Minister for his approval and we hope that sometime in June the two National Park plans can be launched simultaneously to emphasise to the public the importance of protecting these very special places.

We also hope that people in the Parks will see that their ideas and their concerns have been acknowledged and will be addressed.

Yes Bob, it’s good to talk, but it’s even better to listen.

By Brian Wood, CNPA