Hands Off Our Forest
A campaign to keep the
Forest of Dean out of private hands

hands off our forest

Photo by John Belcher


 

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Posted by: Owen, Ruardean, 5 August 2013

Good work on the website. This amounts to privatisation by a different route. Back in 2010/11 the main message from our thousands of supporters was "It's OUR Forest." The latest policy document begins by reiterating the promise made by the government that our Forest will remain in public ownership, then totally contradicts that pledge further on. It also claims nothing is fixed and how it will proceed along this policy route depends on the feedback the government receives. So time anyone and everyone gave feedback!

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Posted by: dave morris, forest, 29 July 2013

looks like government , are going to ignore everything , we thought we had gained , unsure that hoof wiil hold much sway with tories future plans , but good luck, time for the rabble to organise , protest , we know how to do this , in solidarity dave

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 28 February 2013

The previous comment reminds me how far the debate has moved on since Harper and his mates came up with their proposal to sell off the Forest. If it was not for HOOF this is what we could be dealing with now: I'm looking for help to publicise our petition to WG. We're a small group fighting a proposed opencast mine and know of many more in the South Wales Coalfields fighting the same battle. We have cross party support and our local council has turned down the proposal but WG are about to overturn the decision. Following a Public Inquiry in Jan 2012, the outcome of which we are still waiting for, in a report that is as yet unseen by us, to the Minister for Environment, he has been "minded to allow" the application. We thought we'd go straight for the WG and ask that the MTAN2 recommendations they made in 2009, particularly the 500metre buffer zone around opencast mines, be made law as they have the power to do this. We hope our endeavours will make a difference to the whole of Wales and not just our little valley, which we have fought valiantly for but may be about to lose the fight. Not over yet though and we have unanimous support from Councillors to continue to reject the proposals and wide Community support. I hope you can help us by spreading our petition to your networks and signing it :-) https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=864&showfrm=0 Many thanks, Lyn. Please show solidarity by by signing the petition

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 26 February 2013

We should, of course, all feel satisfied that our collective efforts have led to a government response to the Forestry Panel Report which is greatly to be welcomed. But there are concerns arising from the government announcement that it intends to set up a new body to manage England’s forests. Forestry Commission GB consists of three national organisations: England, Scotland and Wales. Within these, since devolution, forestry commissioners have exercised most of their functions separately. But sustainable forestry policy, forestry standards, international relations, plant health and forestry research are delivered on a GB-wide basis, funded by Defra. Given the proposals for a new body for England there is a risk that forestry research could become fragmented. It is not clear why it is necessary to create a new body; nor how the government will retain essential forestry expertise at its core. A new business model must recognise that prices for timber, a basic commodity, fluctuate widely through each year. The Forestry Commission provides stability within this market. Greater involvement of social enterprises within a new body could require more public subsidy unless the commercial expertise within the Forestry Commission is retained and remains paramount.

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Posted by: Dean Stockton, Forest of Dean, 6 February 2013

I can't tell you how angry I was to see Mark Harper's face looking out at me from today's Forester's article about the Forest victory, and even angrier to hear how "A number of groups, including HOOF has been consulted" and that he has "kept in touch with...HOOF throughout" . No Mark, it was HOOF and others who got the government to listen to us INSPITE of your attempts to back the governments original plan to privatise us. Or do you count the infamous meeting in Coleford when you locked hundreds out in the rain without even a PA relay as "keeping in touch? We will all remember at the next election that it was you that tried to sell off the Dean and then, breathtakingly, tried to take the credit for the U turn.

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Posted by: Roderick Leslie, Bristol, 4 February 2013

I am very pleased with the Government's response. Yes, of course there is lots of detail to fill in but the key is the Government have recognised the political realities and it would be pointless to try and undermine their very clear position as we develop the new structure for the Forestry Commission. By doing what they have done Ministers have recognised that our national forests are far more than timber factories, in fact they are now part of our English Heritage - icons alongside St Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare and Man U ! HOOF had made the running - don't stop, now is the time to work out the sort of forest and governance you want for the future - and, remember, this is for the long term so don't get bogged down in todays urgent issues, think 100 - 200 - 300 years ahead, and about what you want for your children and grandchildren.

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Posted by: Squirrel Gang Union Rep., Treetops Ave, Coleford, 4 February 2013

I object to Julian's comments on behalf of all my squirrel compatriots. OK we do damage trees, but that's because we are only animals working by instinct, unlike humans who are deliberately about to destroy a large area of our habitat for a vastly expensive scheme that has no guarantee of success, except to make a load of dosh for developers and builders. Also destroying a perfectly good College Campus at the same time for some new glass and concrete monstrosity that won't fit my Forest environment. Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones awld butt.

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Posted by: True Forester, berry hill, 4 February 2013

Now HOOF will have some time to concentrate on saving the Forest Waste areas in the Statutary Forest, with their unique or rare flora and fauna, from the 'enemy within' on the local Councils and their so-called educational and govt quango knock it down friends. Or is the group already compromised by those with their own agenda? Come on, let's get stuck in.

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Posted by: Warren James, Vorest a'Dean, 2 February 2013

Updated, News from the Forest, miners monument destroyed! Resistance walk, Sunday 3th - Cinderfud triangle @ 12 mid-day! http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/712640

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 1 February 2013

This Sunday 3rd Feb Cinderford http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/712615

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Posted by: Julian, Lydney, 31 January 2013

Maybe now your organisation should address the single biggest threat to the Forest, that posed by the grey squirrel. The next generation of broadleaves really don't stand a chance and the character of the forest will change to something of far less value for the next generation. The forest requires active management and lets face it the FC, despite their best intentions, no longer have the resources or expertise to ensure good silvicultural management. What you see now is down to the hard work put in decades ago. Now the ownership is secure lets try to put our efforts into maintaining that management, otherwise future generations will ask why wasn't the forest sold? After all in order to make a profit one needs to produce a good quality product, and that can be achieved without losing any of the other benefits we recognise and value.

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Posted by: Amanda Cox, Whitecroft, 27 January 2013

Looks like the Northern Quarter development is going ahead. Its on the BBC News website. They make it sound so brilluant. I know Cinderford is a tired old place but just building things is not going to be the magic answer. Its just another example of economics over environment, and as usual the powers that be that dont even live in the area are peddling lies to those who do.

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Posted by: Cheryl, Blakeney, 13 January 2013

We wait somewhat anxiously for the Government's long awaited response to the Panel's report. Two years and I guess the government had hoped we had all gone away by now. However I am aware of the hard work which has been put in over the last few months by HOOF and other campaign network members, aimed specfically at ensuring that the government is very well aware that we are still here. If the response ends up being no change except less money, as is the fear, then we need to gear up for another round, this time on adequate resourcing. So, all you HOOF supporters, don't put your placards away just yet.

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Posted by: Shauna, Whitecroft, 10 January 2013

I've just seen the front page of this week's Forest Review - 'Voice will take Northern Fight to Westminster' and I’m delighted to see that this matter is not as ‘done and dusted’ as I had assumed. Much of the development planned to take place at Cinderford's Northern Quarter falls within the boundary of the Statuary Forest. Regrettably, it also falls outside of HOOF's remit. We should consider ourselves fortunate, however, that there are still organisations in the Forest who are not afraid to continue the fight for its protection and I would urge HOOF members to demonstrate their individual support for this campaign.

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 28 October 2012

This disease could devastate our landscape and ecosystem. Owen Patterson should have banned the import of potentially diseased ash months ago. We have been lobbying our MPs in Bristol to do this for months but no one took us seriously. What was Mark Harper doing? http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/28/more-forest-sites-ash-disease

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 21 September 2012

The maintenance Forest estate including the Forest of Dean is under threat due to cuts to DEFRA.To resist this and other cuts twelve thousand Public and Commercial Services union members from the transport and environment departments will hold a joint strike tomorrow (21) over cuts and closures that threaten vital services to the public. Following two months of rolling strikes across the Department for Transport, the union's 8,500 DfT members will be joined by 3,500 from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the walkout. As well as picket lines across the country, members in London will march from 2pm from Smith Square, via Marsham Street, for a rally in Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament. PCS members in the Home Office, facing thousands of job cuts and draconian changes to their terms and conditions, are also expected to join the march. Among the issues under dispute in the DfT are plans to close almost half of the UK's coastguard stations; the closure of all 39 of the DVLA's local offices and 10 enforcement centres; and cuts and the threat of privatisation in the Driving Standards Agency. There are similar concerns over job cuts and privatisation in Defra. And all of this comes on top of a pay freeze and the looming threat of the imposition of local or regional pay, which would drive living standards down even further. DfT members will be on strike all day and Defra members will walk out for three hours from 1.30pm. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Despite all the evidence pointing to the fact that austerity isn't working, this government is ploughing ahead with unnecessary and damaging cuts that will deprive our communities of vital public services. "As we approach the TUC anti-cuts demonstrations on 20 October and beyond, we believe more co-ordinated industrial action like this will be necessary, not just between civil service departments but across the public sector, if the government refuses to change course on cuts to jobs, pay and pensions."

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Ruardean, 31 August 2012

Appreciate your points John, but HOOF's stated aim, to keep the Forest of Dean out of private hands, is not yet achieved and we are entirely focussed on that objective, as it is what we set out to do. There is still much for HOOF to do, and we have to remain focussed, hence a team has been beavering away to come up with a HOOF response, based on a wide range of input from different groups. By the time you read this, this may be online on this site (it's not many pages, so I hope everyone reads it). The panel's report - which we'd hoped would attract more comment, as it is still 'unfinished business', if you like - has yet to be responded to by the Government (this will be in January). As for the speakers, anyone who was at our event had the opportunity to speak in an open session. I didn't spot any of our district council representatives there (though I might have missed them). If we evolved, as you suggest, we'd be a. taking our eye of the main prize, and b. going off on tangents without the consent of our wide array of supporters. Of course, that's no reason why HOOF supporters and the organisations represented within it can't take up other battles. HOOF, though, has to keep focussed because if we lose that focus, then where could the Forest of Dean as a whole be a little further down the line? Lastly, we still need everyone behind us and keeping vigil, because our battle goes on. As Jonathon Porritt said at our event, "we may have won the battle for hearts, but not minds".

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Posted by: JOHN BELCHER, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 3 August 2012

HOOF must spread its wings to cover and protect the inside of the Forest. Having met various characters and 'suits' involved in the latest scandal of the destruction of Forest Waste and people's cultural and social facilities, I was appalled at what was evidently their deliberate lack of understanding and arrogance on "what is best for us" and what is "best for them" was palpably hovering below the surface. There are some good people being duped here by the promises of 'Jam tomorrow'. This scheming could destroy our Forest as easily as 'privatisation'. Andrew Gardiner is spot on, on this, his good sense comes through all the time and I was surprised on hearing that as Forest Champion,he wasn't invited to speak at the Speech House 'celebration'. Unfortunately I was unable to be there, so all my knowledge is secondhand, but I do believe that HOOF has a future if it evolves, even if some people drop off on the way.

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Posted by: Shauna Gwynne, Whitecroft, 1 August 2012

And now you've achieved that success - are you just going to stand by and watch the gradual destruction of the Forest you fought so hard to save? HOOF has done a wonderful job, but the particular threat which brought about its formation has now passed and HOOF must either re-focus or consign itself to history. Personally, I really believe there's a long-term role for HOOF. As you say, it may be difficult to achieve concensus with the current leadership - but the same applies to just about every political party or pressure group - and it's not a good reason to stop you trying.

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Posted by: Ian Standing, Hon Secretary HOOF, 31 July 2012

In response to Forest Lover Berry Hill,it might be remembered that HOOF is a campaign that came into being to fight a single issue, namely to keep the forests publicly owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. This uncomplicated aim had massive support from a wide cross section of Forest residents. That is why the campaign remained united and successful. Along the way, the HOOF Steering Group declined to take on other causes; partly because HOOF was not mandated to do so and partly because some of those causes carried with them such strongly polarised views that the unity of the HOOF Campaign would have become difficult to maintain. On Saturday evening, HOOF Chairman (and a past Chair of Dean Forest Voice) did not refuse to answer the question about the Northern Quarter. In reply he noted that members of Dean Forest Voice and others had been fighting NQ and similar developments for a decade. Although Rich did not say so on Saturday, it is a fact that many HOOF Steering group members are highly active on other causes. Of course HOOF doesn't want the Forest covered with concrete. But the major battle on ownership had to won. Without that success everything else would have been at risk for ever. ELLHW

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 30 July 2012

HOOF still has work to do. The independent panel have produced a good report but what really counts is the government response to it. So before people lapse into an argument about whether HOOF or FANS or whatever are where the next focus should be let's all just make sure that the whole of our country's public forest are safe.

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Posted by: forestlover, berry hill, 29 July 2012

Why did the HOOF panel refuse to answer questions on the Northern Arc being built on Forest Waste land on Saturday night? You are either for saving the Statutary Forest from all those who wish to own it, exploit it, inside and outside, or you are not. Time to wind up the show and close down for now. HOOF is past its sell-by date anyway, that's why so few people were at the Speech House last night. New pressure groups for the people are taking over who don't want creeping urbanisation, parking tickets, destruction of community assets, historical buildings and wild habitats etc. in their Forest.

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Posted by: richard gibbs, berryhill, 18 July 2012

How was the ground originally acquired when East Dean Grammar School, now The Forest Of Dean College, came into being; as I was led to believe it was forestry commission ground? The chestnut trees came right up to the small path that ran up the boundary of the Five Acres Secondary School. If and when The Forestry Commission made over the ground to the relevant authorities; were any covenants imposed?

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Posted by: Shauna Gwynne, Whitecroft, 16 July 2012

Very many thanks to 'Hands Off Our Forest' for all their hard work in preventing the Government's attempt to sell off the Forest of Dean, but there is still so much to do. FANS (Five Acres Not for Sale) are doing a sterling job, but I'm concerned that centring the debate on the issue of Five Acres College is shifting the focus away from wider concerns many people have, regarding the planned development of Cinderford's Northern Quarter. It's an awful proposal, which involves the destruction of a huge chunk of Statuary Forest, and we need someone to do something before it really is too late. I do understand that there are good reasons why HOOF have previously been reluctant to get involved in this issue, but now the threat of a Forest sell off seems to have passed, this is surely the time for them to look more closely at what’s going on here. HOOF, we still need you!

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Posted by: David and Morag Norman, Longhope, 4 July 2012

Great news and a good report. Now all we have to do is to make sure the government follows the recommendations - every single one of them. With our MP so committed to the Forest it shouldn't be too difficult, should it?

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Posted by: Pete Dunford, Pillowell, 4 July 2012

A MASSIVE thank you to the HOOF committee for lighting the beacon for others to follow. This is a monumental climb down by the government. Shame on you Mark Harper!! This result is based upon a collective vision, community action and PERSISTANCE! Many many thanks!

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Posted by: JOHN BELCHER, JOYFORD HILL, 4 July 2012

This is a great victory for the people over authority. I have just read the Independent Panel on Forestry Summary of Recommendations. They actually listened to us. There is no place for the kind of Development being pushed by the Northern Arc regeneration project on 250 acres of Forest land. Rgeneration should be moved inside the Cinderford town boundary and the Five Acres college redeveloped where it is. DFV and FANS are being proved to be right. I hope this Council understands and acts accordingly and Mark Harper at last apologises for all the heartache that he caused by his failure to speak up for the citizens of the Forest and side with the Government's privatisation plans.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 4 July 2012

Truly grateful to HOOF for all your hard work over the last year and a half or so - which has really paid off today. Thank you very, very much.

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Posted by: john belcher, berry hill, 11 April 2012

There is a public meeting at Berry Hill Rugby Club on Monday, 16th April at 7.30pm to discuss the proposed plans to wreck the Five Acres Campus, including the Sports and Leisure Centre, the theatre, swimming pool and the courts and pitches. Please come along and hear the truth about these proposals and the vast cost it will bring to the local taxpayers. Also how it is also planned to cover 250 acres of statutary forest with concrete.

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 18 March 2012

Thanks to the increasing and ongoing media coverage, assisted by individuals like John Belcher, around The Wilderness Centre, Northern United development, rape of Coleford, massive tax increases through double charging for parking, waste collection, etc. people ARE slowly starting to wake up to the increasing attacks on our area. This awareness is growing across the Forest of Dean and our network of friends across the UK are rest assured, suffering similar impositions in their own areas. Larger, more visible and effective protests are no doubt soon to emerge. HOOF was formed as a focus for a disparate group of individuals uniting to fight a specific threat - many of those same individuals are prepared to focus on these other threats as they emerge. This focus is what used to be called democracy.

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Posted by: John B., berry hill, 11 March 2012

Don't blame the College for the fracas over 5 Acres, it's the Council who are attempting to manoeuvre them and the so-called regeneration dept who are making statements that are not even facts so far. Without the College moving they can't proceed with their Forest wrecking plans.

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Posted by: john.belcher6@btinternet.com, berry hill, 5 March 2012

Shauna is spot on; but there is an increasing resistance to these mad and financially out-of-control plans. Watch out for the first public protest meeting.

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Posted by: Shauna, Whitecroft, 29 February 2012

Well ok, that may be the case, but there was nothing to stop any of HOOF's leadership protesting as individuals - yet I think I'm right in saying that only one felt strongly enough to do so. The rest stood by and watched the council gain permission to build a huge hotel (which will drive many of the Forest's smaller hotels to the wall), a college (that we already have), homes (that will go to outsiders), factory units (that wont be let), a new road (which needlessly dog-legs through the Forest) and the destruction of Northern United (YOUR heritage) and the vandalism of Steam Mills lake (one of the pretiest in the Forest). I hope everyone at HOOF is feeling proud themselves - creeping urbanisation is a one-way journey.

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Posted by: Rich Daniels and Ian Standing, HOOF Chair and Secretary, 4 January 2012

“ HOOF came into being from a wide spread of Forest organisations with diverse interests, but all of which agreed that the Government’s proposals had to be resisted. And with immense backing from local people, HOOF has been successful so far – although there is a long way to go yet. HOOF has always been a single issue campaign and the way in which people have worked together for the cause has been inspirational. There are many serious matters affecting the Forest about which different people hold a range of views – some approve and other do not. HOOF has no mandate to take up one side or the other. The HOOF mandate is to keep our Forest publicly owned and managed by the Forestry Commission. When and if that battle is won it will be for local people to decide if they want HOOF to develop more widely.”

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Posted by: Shauna Gwynne, Whitecroft, 2 January 2012

I've been reading the exchange of letters in the Forest Review, concerning the developement plans for Cinderford's Northern Quarter and I'm just so angry that HOOF decided to turn a blind eye to this vandalism of the Statuary Forest. As far as I am aware only one member of HOOF's leadership made a stand - and that was in a personal capiaity, not as a representative of HOOF. Honestly HOOF you should be utterely ashamed about this. Talk about double standards!

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Posted by: Robin Warren, Lydney, 10 December 2011

When the report came out, I felt it was too long to read. Now, however, I have run through the appendex and found it very interesting - well worth the effort!

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Posted by: john belcher, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 26 November 2011

Don't allow Gloucester College to bulldoze the 5 acres Campus including the Leisure Centre with its swimming pool,gym,sports pitches, theatre, restaurant etc.in order to grab some cash to finance its grandiose plans to build a 'university' (Steambridge) at the other end of the Forest; which will be part of another grandiose scheme that will entail the stealing of 250 acres of Statutary Forest land and the destruction of the historic Northern Utd Colliery buildings, which could be conserved,renovated and used profitably. Yes, I am biased, but I am old enough to remember the Forest before this creeping urbanisation starting degrading it as a unique community and my dear Grandfather wept blood, sweat and tears at Northern for 27 years of his life along with hundreds of others. Another icon will be destroyed in the name of 'progress'. HOOF wasn't formed to allow this kind of vandalism within the bounds of the Dean Forest. We must take more care than ever in respecting and restoring the Dean. I remember when much of the old industrial areas around Steam Mills had reverted to a marsh environment full of wildlife and rare birds such as the snipe. All swept away without a thought. Now the misguided and avaricious want to do it again. It may be the biggest flop (hopefully) since the Cannop Hotel scheme, but I have the distinct feeling Gloucestershire College have plans to destroy 5Acres, take the cash and run back to Gloucester to spend their ill-gotten gains up there. Cynical? You bet owld butties. Even Jolter couldn't have made this up!

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 19 September 2011

I'm concerned that people are giving in to the temptation to feed the wild pigs, either unaware or unconcerned about the likely consequences. As we have fought to keep the public stake in our Forest could we now have a HANDS ON OUR FOREST campaign, in co-operation with the FC, to promote responsible public behaviour here? If we truly feel it is our Forest then this would seem to be a natural next step.

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Posted by: john sidey, halfpenny house rugby road brandon coven, 8 September 2011

I have no problem with simplifying planning regulations. However the new proposals indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of the important roles of existing regulations. I write as treasurer for 10 years of a local organisation that bought local woodland that is now highly valued, and that was due have been put to housing development. Need I say that other local land which was environmentally less critical easily provided the space for new housing - though, no doubt, less conveniently for developers.

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Posted by: Pat Lacy, Forest of Dean, 28 July 2011

Go for it Ian. Even if you think you are repeating yourself endlessly. Just think of it as hammering and hammering against a brick wall.

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 23 July 2011

Every time I sit down to write my comments to the panel to answer their specific questions I get stuck and keep putting it off. Does anyone else have this problem? I know I want to say “keep the status quo, with perhaps a more democratic and open Forestry Commission”, but the questions make it difficult just to say this. I am worried that others may have the same problem and give up on it all together.

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Posted by: Sue D'nhim, St Briavels, 9 July 2011

A Poem For HOOFday Vernal Dean our ancient home and harbour Air and water, soil and soul you cleanse "Time out of mind" support and ardour Of King, of outlaw, and of common men Celt and Cwmru, Dane and Druid before you Gifted to us from each grateful King Silurian, Saxon, Saracen and all who Today combine and name of "forester" bring! Foresters who never shall forsake you!, Proud to dwell with you and share your name! Foresters who rise when thieves approach you! To cut you up for market, for their gain! The oak is a large and unyielding tree And home to many a creepy crawly The willow is supple, the willow is wise She watches the flow from her riverside In London's a grove of "parliamentrees"; And each one may choose which they most want to be So to make it seem fair and to help them decide They sent out a panel to our arborside. Now listen to your panel, when they bring the words we spoke Read and heed this forest warning true!. A storm this strong may fell the mighty oak! ...but the willow bows and lets the storm pass through...

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Posted by: robin phelps, Yorkley, 6 July 2011

If Harper was truly for the Forest and its people (as is right and proper for any elected representative) he would have done his homework and known that we will fiercely defend this forest. But, once again, as borne out by history, outsiders know best. Is it any wonder that the Forester, even in the 21st century, is deeply suspicious of "vurriners" and their intentions? Harper should have tuned in to local feelings and done the right thing - go against the party grain. But how can an ambitious bean counter from Swindon, or from wherever he hails, ever be trusted; to feel what we feel? He had a chance to be a hero (despite being a Tory) but he chose the other path. To have stood up for our cause may not have, ultimately, secured him another spell as our MP, but he would have been remembered as an honourable man. Yes, even in this world of snouts-in-the-trough politicians, he could have shown that there is still honour. If he's re-elected I'll buy the world's biggest hat and eat it, because if he is it really will be the end.

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Posted by: Deborah Iden, Carry on Kielder, Kielder, Northumberland, 21 June 2011

Congratulations to everyone at the HOOF for such a succesful start to the Independent Panel's tour of the country. Here in Kielder we have a much smaller and more dispersed population, so your lead is going to be a hard one for us to follow, but we still hope to do everyone proud with our show of the strength of local feeling. Thanks for kickstarting the campaign in such a striking manner!

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Posted by: Roderick Leslie, Bristol, 14 June 2011

Dear Rich + everyone at HOOF well done with the panel ! I've had some comments back, all very positive indeed. Its clear you've opened a lot of eyes - especially to the relationship between Fc and the Forest, and you have also demonstrated that the Forest really is a community - like all communities its not sweetness and light all the time, and you got that across very afirly. Also, one person I've spoken to commented on how impressed he was at one of the workshops at the way different interests considered the forests as whole, not just their particular interest. Well done - I think people are starting to understand that the Forest is a lot more than just a bundle of special interests, but a place to live with a fantastic heritage of which we are all proud - and a future we are all committed to protect. Roderick Leslie

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Posted by: johnb, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 12 June 2011

Matter resolved.

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Posted by: john belcher, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 9 June 2011

Who has organised all this? Has the Dean Heritage Centre been invited to this workshop? Are the Panel going to the Centre? After all we at the Centre/Museum are the repository of the VAST MAJORITY of artefacts and documents etc.for the true History and Heritage of the Forest of Dean. They can learn more from our Galleries in 30 minutes than anywhere else in days. Answers please from someone 'in the know'.

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Posted by: Owen, Ruardean, 7 June 2011

In answer to Michelle - the Northern Quarter development plans near Steam Mills have been ongoing for some years, and a large portion of the site (the former Northern United colliery) was bought quite a while ago by the South West Regional Development Agency. You will find certain members of the HOOF steering group (Friends of the Forest and Friends of the Earth) have been actively opposing it, while others (such as Councillor Graham Morgan) are on the Cinderford Regeneration Board, overseeing it... it's a separate issue to the recent Government plans, and one which was set in motion some time ago. In answer to Robin, the panel have been invited to watch a humorous re-enactment of the Dean Forest Riots on their 180th anniversary, taking place opposite Speech House at 5.30pm on Sunday (if they arrive in time)... they will then have a workshop Sunday evening with invited Forest 'stakeholders' (parish council and other organisational reps). On Monday morning they will tour the Forest examining the Dean's cultural heritage, and will meet commoners and community at The Pludds Village Hall (sometime after 10am). More details in The Forester (and presumably the Review) later this week.

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Posted by: Michelle, Lydney, 5 June 2011

There seem to be double standards here. HOOF are against the government selling off our Forest, but according to a letter in last week's Forester, they haven't made any protest about the district council developing a great chunk of the statuary forest, north of Cinderford.

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Posted by: Robin Warren, Lydney, 26 May 2011

We know the Panel are to visit the Forest of Dean on Monday, 13th June. Do we know who they are meeting, where and when?

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 21 April 2011

there is a 38 degrees on-line petition relating to the 'red tape' story below.

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Posted by: David N Morag Norman, Longhope, 21 April 2011

We’ve also had Mark Harper’s latest weasly letter. We’ve written back pointing out that there’s no obvious expert input on tourism – rather an important area – and while the panel does have a chartered accountant (why?) neither horse riders nor cyclists are represented. But even more noticeable is that our MP merely writes “I hope that the panel will visit the Forest of Dean as part of their evidence gathering process”. We’ve written back to say that as the elected representative for the Forest of Dean we expected him to have insisted that the Secretary of State ensures such a contact. Oh for an MP that cares for us!!

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Posted by: Bobp556, North Wilts (ex FOD), 20 April 2011

Have you seen the latest Govt consultation under the heading red tape challenge. They are seeking advice from businesses on whic regulations to do away with, the presumption being they will go unless the minister argues successfully. The list of hundreds includes the whole of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act and the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

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Posted by: john belcher, berry hill, 19 April 2011

Sale of Bircham Wood = Tax Dodge. Conclusion:- Disgusting and Immoral. ps. Have you all had a weasly letter from Harper recently? What planet is he on.

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 13 April 2011

the new owners of Bircham Wood are: ANTHONY LACEY ASKEW of 12 Worcester Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4QU the Trustees of the No 5 Stanley Weigel Settlement Trust DUNCAN STUART of 12 Worcester Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 4QU the Trustees of the No 5 Stanley Weigel Settlement Trust.

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Posted by: Roger Thorne, Cinderford, 30 March 2011

LARGE congratulations to Rich on his appearance at the March in London. I've always been proud of where I'm from, but after listening to what the Foresters achieved in this campaign put so well and passionately I'm sure I'm walking an inch taller.

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Posted by: Michael, Forest of Dean, 4 March 2011

I wonder whether the Forest of Dean ought to have a permanent organisation which people could join to provide voluntary help to back up the work of the Forestry Commission? If so, could HOOF run this, or should HOOF be kept separate ready for the next time a campaign is needed? I have also been thinking about the Verderers. Do they serve a useful purpose any longer? Did they play any part in the campaign? They are elected for life - is this what we want in the future? The issue of how to get rid of Mark Scarper is a separate problem and if HOOF is to remain influential it can't really get involved in politics. I would like to see a strong Independent candidate at the next election - is anyone doing anything about achieving this?

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 28 February 2011

John Belcher and others are right. The National Trust may be fine at looking after great houses and their visitors, the RSPB good at looking out for birds and their watchers, the Woodland Trust good at defending little patches of threatened woodland, but when it comes to managing serious forests the Forestry Commission are the folks for the job. Any racehorse trainer will tell you that "horses for courses" is a motto that really means something!

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Posted by: john belcher, joyford hill, 27 February 2011

I took the handsoff sign at Soudley Ponds down on Wednesday. I am more concerned about the roadside rubbish thrown out of car etc. windows by slovenly humans travelling through the Forest. I am also a longtime member of the National Trust and under no circumstances would I like to see them take charge of the running of our Forest. Their philophosy is inappropriate for the Dean. No Trusts thankyou. Let's just leave it alone shall we?

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Posted by: Frank Williams, Coleford, 25 February 2011

I have for the last week spent time driving around the forest. covering most roads in both directions several times, with an observer, looking for ribbons and signs. Removing any we find only this afternon we covered some 45 miles at low speed. we found little evidence of any signage or ribbon, but removed any we foundand will continue to do so over the coming weeks. I fully support HOOF in the efforts it has made to protect the Forest of Dean and have removed ribbons and sign I had no part in putting up. However considering all the visable markers were put up over a couple of months find it remarkable that in under a week almost every sign and ribbon of the campaign have been removed.

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Posted by: Nigel Costley, Forest, 25 February 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHN and thanks for a great web site

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Posted by: A Forest Dweller, Forest of Dean, 25 February 2011

Go and look in Soudley Ponds. Go and Look on the playground gates in Buckshaft. Go and look near Blackpool bridge.................

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Posted by: John French, FOD, 25 February 2011

As someone has already said, HOOF members and others have spent many hours taking down ribbons and signs this past week. I cycled around the Forest for 3 hours yesterday and did not see one sign or ribbon. Of course if owners wish to put ribbons and signs up on their own private land there is nothing HOOF can do about that, but personally I have not seen any - and I have looked hard. So well done HOOF for a responsible and successful campaign.

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Posted by: A Forest Dweller, Forest of Dean, 25 February 2011

I did and will continue to pick up signs, ribbon and other litter. I cannot pick up the sign in Soudley Ponds as it is floating in the reeds and you need waders or a long stick to reach it. There are other signs around the forest not on proivate property, for example, a playground gate in Buckshaft, and not carrying a hammer or similar tool I would not be able to remove them. Well done to HOOF for their campaign although in future I may not be able to support you as I am a member of RSPB, Woodland Trust and National Trust all of whom do fantastic work and would all care for the forest as they do all their other land. If HOOF were to campaign against them, for example suggesting people cancel membership as has been done already, then I cannot support you any longer.

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Posted by: Averil, Oldcroft, 25 February 2011

Dear Forest Dweller HOOF is not a vast organisation and we did spend most of last weekend going round the forest taking down boards and yellow ribbons. We did not remove them from private property leaving them for residents to take down when they wish to. We ask that anyone who sees any boards or yellow ribbons still around in the forest itself to please help us by returning the forest to its natural state by removing them and disposing of them. If the boards are still in a good condition you might like to return them to the Forester or Forest Review offices in case we should ever need them again. Remember although we have won a battle the war is not yet over.

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Posted by: Johan, Sussex, 25 February 2011

Congratulations to everybody who made HOOF so successful. Now that they have time on their hands would they like to help to promote HOOP - "HARPER OUT OF PARLIAMENT". His Fern Ticket is hereby withdrawn

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Posted by: A Forest Dweller, Forest of Dean, 25 February 2011

Signs, signs and more signs. The headline on this site says they have all been taken down but there are many out there - including lots that are no longer attached to anything and are just litter. It should be a priority to clear up so visitors can see how much we care for the forest. Afterall, a sign floating in Soudly Ponds does not look good, does it? and then there are the yellow ribbons!

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 24 February 2011

The Forest of Dean sustained our prophets for thousands of years. Profits are less important. Many of the ancient Morgans knew this intimately - what a shame John doesn't yet.

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 23 February 2011

Always good to read your straight thinking Dave. Green Man is right though to mention mammon worshippers. Only when the spiritual relationship between the people and the forest is honoured will the money side of things follow in the right way.

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 23 February 2011

If I understand Mr Morgan correctly he's saying that the Forestry Commission ought to continue to run UK public forests, but not at a loss. If that's really his message then he's nearly right. Possibly he doesn't know that that's almost where the Forestry Commission is already, and that the net subsidy we have to find through our taxes is less than 30p per head per year. He really shouldn't worry about the money, just how we stop a government which is dogmatic in its opposition to the public sector from destroying the Forestry Commission.

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Posted by: Green Man, berry Hill, 22 February 2011

Is this John Morgan a Forest Morgan? From the far-flung wilds of Canada, does he understand what it's all about? Does he worship the great God Mammon? Does he know that we Foresters don't need academic letters after our name to know what we want and will fight for? Does he know how much in taxes we fork out to the State for it to work for OUR benefit and not through some nebulous Big Society idea out of the playing fields of Eton? No! we won't forget it. A tip for Mr Morgan. "Mind thee own biznuss butty an look to thee own vorests."

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Posted by: john morgan, M.A. (Forestry) Oxon, Canada, 22 February 2011

The Forest must be run by The Forestry Commission AT A SELF SUSTAINING PROFIT by selling its produce, OTHERWISE FORGET IT. The first step is a management plan. John Morgan

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Posted by: Caroline Harmer, Bream, 22 February 2011

The suggestion of a Warren James walking group is a good idea, count me in.

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Posted by: Vic Gorham, Wickford, South Essex, 21 February 2011

I'm sure Hoof Will be, but I just want to say that we all need to be alert, very alert, as this government, regardless of who is in power can be very devious, and slipery. telling the masses one think, and doing the complete opposite. Well done on all you have done, so my grand-children can roam this wonderful country. May the Gods look kingly on you all.

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Posted by: Former Forester, Cambridge, 20 February 2011

Congratulations to HOOF and all supporters who helped to achieve this victory! My own experience of the campaign indicates that both Caroline Spelman and Jim Paice, the two people most responsible for this hare-brained scheme, have hidden behind Defra staff and refused to answer direct correspondence, as has my own MP. It is a shoddy example of government all round, from both Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians. In the FOD, one of the next steps should be to remove Mark Harper and replace him with an MP who actually cares about the Forest of Dean and its trees. By the way the criticism of the RSPB and the Woodland Trust by some of your other commentators seems misplaced, as both these organisations do good work in preserving woodland and could assist the FC. Anger should be directed at Conservative Party HQ, which is the true villain in this piece.

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Posted by: Sue N, England, 19 February 2011

Bob, Liz is right to be concerned. The RSPB are a single issue NGO - birds. Similarly the Woodland Trust - ancient woods (= derelict woods in their eyes). Both will be on the panel and both will be after the biggest slice of pies in return for helping develop government policy. The FC while not perfect by any means still remains 'the best fit'. They've been around for 90 years and learned from their mistakes plus learned how to compromise. The government is chucking the baby out with the bath water - and that is their intention.

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Posted by: sarah french, forest of dean, 19 February 2011

Well done to HOOF and to everyone who turned up today at speach house to see the last of the signs come down, Mind you it was sad to see how few did turn up when you think how many turned up when it was the local car rally, Dont people know that if the forest had been sold off it might have been the last time the rally was held in the forest and im sure then that people would have started moaning about it being sold off. Again well done everyone who backed HOOF and did their own bit no matter how small to save the forest, At least you can say you did something and be proud of your self, WELL DONE YOU

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Posted by: Bob, North Wilts (ex FOD), 19 February 2011

Liz, I am sorry your comments have slightly confused me. The Govt have done a U turn on most of the sale of forests (not all) and the RSPB is simply saying that it can't be left in limbo, the forests still need proper protection and management. I can't see much wrong with that. Unfortunately the FC is being reduced and the problem that a lot of woodland will have is incorrect, or lack of, management in the future unless it is protected. I support HOOF in getting a say in that discussion.

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Posted by: Liz Lennon, Forest Of Dean, 19 February 2011

I hope the celebration went well today, and I'm SOOOO sorry that I couldn't be there to enjoy it and to congratulate the great people of HOOF (son's birthday party had to come first!). This is a great victory BUT please please please don't let the RSPB and their like get their paws on the Forest - have a look at what RSPB are saying, it's truly scary stuff. We may have won against the government, but the war is far from over.

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 18 February 2011

Let's celebrate winning the Public Bodies Battle now. But - I see some scarey changes of tactics taking place - one of which is to "divide and conquer" - e.g. http://www.aidanburleymp.org/local-issues/petiton-for-'heritage'-status-for-cannock-chase and http://www.cla.org.uk/News_and_Press/Latest_Releases/Forestry/Government/1005884.htm/ - it may be that we in what the government terms "heritage forests" such as Forest of Dean and New Forest are going to be left alone for now and our friends and allies in the smaller campaigns picked off; no doubt to return to finish us off later. Time for us all in HOOF to join with the other campaigns across the UK, Cannock Chase, Wyre Forest, Lakelands Forests, Haldon, Sherwood forest etc. share intelligence and watch the development of Spelman's panel of charities and "forestry companies" - THIS is the next danger. We must also do our best to protect the Forestry Commission so that they remain in a position to manage our forests. This is not over.

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Posted by: Angela, Berry Hill, 18 February 2011

I would like to thank everyone who has supported the HOOF campaign, including all the great speakers at the Speech House rally who came out in the freezing weather to help us with yet another battle, not forgetting musicians as well.We must stay vigilant forever.This is OUR FOREST and we love it the way it is.Those who dont agree , then stay out.Well Done To People Power.

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Posted by: Brian Butson, Liphook, Hampshire, 18 February 2011

Well done John Belcher. You are so right. For those that still live in the Forest you need to protect it. Don't think that yesterday's climb down is the end. It is not. Your MP, Mark Harper seems to be a typical politician; a bit spineless; enamoured with his own self-importance; and totally disinterested in his constituents views. He has not understood the importance of the Forest of Dean, its history or the people's feelings and views. If that it right then he is no better than Shakespeare's Malvolio - an absolute fool.

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Posted by: Brian Butson, Liphook, Hampshire, 18 February 2011

Well done John Belcher. You are so right. For those that still live in the forest you need to protect it. Don't think that yesterday's climb down is the end. Your MP Mark Harper seems to be a typical politician; a bit spineless; enamoured with his own self impotance; and totally disinteressed in his constituents views. He has not understood the importance of the Forest of Dean, its hisrory or the people's fealings and views. If that it right then he is no better than Shakespeare's Malvolio - an absolute fool.

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Posted by: Sue, Lydney, 18 February 2011

I was sure that after his support during Foot and mouth,The Animal health bill, Save our services, and supporting dear Harriet the cow. Mark Harper would realise he was not being the voice of the Forest in Westminster, as promised in his acceptance speech, and stand shoulder to shoulder with the amazing HOOF team. So I feel bound to echo Mrs Spielmans words..Sorry I got it wrong. Congratulations HOOF.

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Posted by: john belcher, joyford hill, 18 February 2011

Mr Harper "welcomes" the Uturn. So that's alright then.....Chorus off "Oh no its NOT." It looks as though he is going to try to claim that he was right all along blah blah blah. E must think that Vuresters be thick ar zummat. The man is as slippery as a grass snake,has no conscience and a politician's enhanced instinct for self-preservation. We mustn't let him off the hook. Nor his cronies.

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Posted by: Steven Parry-Hearn, UK2, 17 February 2011

I am deeply deeply proud of the fine people of the FOD. The campaign has been inspiring. Although I would feel safer of the whole Public Bodies Bill were put into the shredder. The way I see it, the career of the self serving, selfish Mr Harper will survive I fear. Lets analyse the situation, Yes Spelman my resign paving the way for M.H. or she may stay put is irrelevant. His options ; His loyalty to iggle piggle Cameron has been bought with his promotion. He will be offered a super safe seat and he will vote for the Forest of Dean constituency be merged,either way the damage to him will be frustratingly minimised. surely we should question whether he still has the confidence of the constituency which he claims to serve. I assure you i will challenge him every inch. I cannot bear his attitude, arrogance and condescending attitude to those he should be supporting and helping.

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Posted by: Brian Butson, Liphook, Hampshire, 17 February 2011

The voresters ave told thic Spelman ‘oman to kip er ands of our oods. Them politicians ould better realise that voresters byunt stupid. If Mark Harper ould like to be a true vorester im ad better realise that. Well done to everyone keep the good work up. The first battle has been won but the war is not over.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 17 February 2011

Here, here to David & Morag Norman's comment - what an amazing group HOOF have been - amazing what passion can do to unite everyone. I'm very worried about all my yellow ribbons. I work all day and am gutted to be away this weekend so cannot get to the celebration and also cannot get to all my ribbons - I will definitely go and check them all on Sat 26th and remove, but they are the one near Staunton traffic lights and down road from Coalway to Pygmy Pinetum... do hope they don't cause too much upset. Sorry. Ooooh, I'm so happy!

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Posted by: Martin, FOD, 17 February 2011

Will you all go out the weekend and remove the yellow ribbons, and return the forest to it's natural beauty, thanks

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Posted by: Christie Arno, Newland, 17 February 2011

Thank you HOOF and everyone else, we can enjoy this day....but like many others , I believe that we must use some of this relief time to marshall argument and information... I cannot believe that they will NOT come back. Watch this forum they are setting up...insist that representation is properly spread. They shall come back claiming some spurious mandate next time...but meanwhile hurray for the foresters and people power...

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Posted by: Emma Medway, Blakeney, 17 February 2011

I applaud the victory, however we really must not forget that our own MP Mark Harper positively backed this bill - I am very worried that people will forget that when it comes to election time again. Don't let him get away with it.

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Posted by: Pat Lacy, Mile End, Coleford, 17 February 2011

I refused to celebrate until Caroline Spelman actually told the House of Commons that the whole disgraceful policy was dropped..... It's a brilliant feeling! Thank you HOOF and ALL its supporters. BUT remember, "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance".....

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 17 February 2011

I think we need to be a bit careful with the celebrations. The Woodland Trust is indicating there is still a back door method being pushed through which may have a damaging effect. See http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/campaigning/planning-changes/Pages/default.aspx. Politicians are devious and resentful beings. They don't like the people power they've witnessed. They'll certainly try to get their revenge.

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Posted by: Bruce Hogan, Lydbrook, 17 February 2011

Just comming to the end of a day's teaching in Hereford. The kids keep asking me why I'm smiling so much. What a great victory for the Forest community and everyone who cares for England's woodlands.

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Posted by: Dave and Krysia, Ellwood, 17 February 2011

Well done to everyone who led and organised the HOOF campaign. We appreciate all the time and energy you put in. A fantastic result!

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Posted by: dave, Forest of Dreams, 17 February 2011

victory is sweet to keep the fire burning , anyone want to join warren james walkers walking group to celebrate freedom and continued solidarity if so please contact me on wrightmorrisrose@yahoo.com

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Posted by: Angus, Norfolk, 17 February 2011

Is it good form to nail things to trees..... like ''Save our Forest'' signs..... see the homepage!

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Posted by: David and Morag Norman, Longhope, 17 February 2011

Huge thanks to everyone who worked to save the Forest of Dean and England's other public forests from an uncertain fate. Thanks to the HOOF organisers, to supporters born in the Forest, to newcomers who've grown to love it, to outsiders and visitors who cared, to folks of all political persuasions and none, to young and old, to those local councillors who were on our side and even to the dogs and sheep who turned out for the rallies. It's been an honour and privilege to be part of it all. And, now that we've all been fired up to defend what we value, please can we keep the website and HOOF ticking over to be on the lookout for threats yet to come? The government, our uncaring MP, those unsupportive District Councillors are still here and still need watching!

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Posted by: Frank Williams, Between the trees, 17 February 2011

Hats off to everybody who helped defeat this ill judged policy, However we need to press for long term safe guards for our national woodland. Commerical Woodland provides funds for provision of tracks and staff in our forests such as the Forest of Dean etc. The Woods will never be fully safe as we have seen so many political U turns in the past. We will I believe be ready to fight again to save forests. Next time the Government will do it thru the back door. I am sure that given time they will contract out the management and running of the forests to charities or other organisations saying "it is the best way of running the woods". Keep the banners and fighting shoes handy we may still need them. As for Mark Harper I am waiting to see how he manages to turn this into a positive news story about himself. I am sure he will tell us "I took your concerns to Westminster and told them it was wrong to proceed". This was going to be this government equivalent of Maggies Poll Tax. Finally A massive THANKYOU to all who help co ordinate this campagin.

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Posted by: Barbara Powell, Abergavenny, 17 February 2011

Congrats to HOOF. we have been following your activities avidly from across the border, and of course the antics of your MP. the campain has been truly inspiring. The Forest is still in safe hands.

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Posted by: Peter Dunford, Pillowell, 17 February 2011

I can only echo the sentiments of Barbara French. What an amazing HOOF team. The key players (you know who you are!!) are and assett to all Forest dwellers and had 'lit the beacon' for others around the country to follow. This is a time for celebration - and reflection on the way this coalition government continues to lurch into short-termism policies. In the meantime - poor ol' Mark H and Caroline S!!! (tongue firmly pressed into my cheek)

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Posted by: john belcher, joyford hill, 17 February 2011

Next save Bircham Wood. ps. Cameron must have heard that A Fraser wanted in on a Charitable Trust to run the FOD. "No!" he shouted to the world.

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Posted by: Bob, North Wilts (ex FOD), 17 February 2011

It looks like Victory but remember only 85% achieved. The Govt appears to be going ahead with the 100,000 acre sell off and now there is no consultation. It would make senser to put 100% of Forests on the table for the next discussion. HOOF might want to have a say in that.

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Posted by: Barbara French, Brockweir, 17 February 2011

Well done to everyone at HOOF who has worked so hard for this. The level of expertise, talent and knowledge that has come out of the woods to fight this battle has been inspirational.We really have been in safe hands!

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Posted by: Frank Baynham, Forest of Dean, 17 February 2011

Great news indeed and congratulations to all at HOOF for your magnificant campaign. Let's not get too carried away though. The Public Bodies Bill must be defeated or they'll be able to come back and sell off or close down any of our public assets without facing the same problems.

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 17 February 2011

I thought one of the many good things about the HOOF campaign was that it transcended party politics and united sensible people against a half-baked plan.

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Posted by: Chris Morris, Longhope, 17 February 2011

Congratulations to HOOF - trouncing the Tories must make Rich a national hero

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Posted by: Ros Daniels, Staunton, 17 February 2011

Rejoice! Forestry clauses to be dropped from Public Bodies Bill as well as consultation scrapped. SUCCESS!

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 16 February 2011

yes! http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/feb/16/forests-sell-off-cameron-uturn

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Posted by: Harry Bryant, Hayes, 16 February 2011

Got my reply today from John McDonnell, MP for Hayes & Harlington: Dear Harry, Sorry about the delay in replying. I am totally opposed to this sell off. I really fear for out forests if this privatisation goes ahead and for the loyal Forestry Commission staff. I have expressed my opposition in Parliament and this morning met the PCS members who staff the Commission. I will do everything in my power to oppose and halt this appalling proposal. Best wishes, John McDonnell MP

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Posted by: Green Man, Berry Hill, 15 February 2011

Nursery rhyme adapted by my young granddaughter. "Marky Harper pudding and pie Ignored the people and made them sigh, When the people had their say Marky Harper ran away." Out of the mouths of babes.....

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 15 February 2011

Here is the john clare poem from the radio 4 programme http://johnclare.blogspot.com/2009/05/enclosure.html

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Posted by: Pat Lacy, Mile End, Coleford, 15 February 2011

Just listened to a programme on BBC Radio 4 called "The Long View". Today it was about Forests, how much we love them and how they've been threatened (and protected) in the past. It's repeated this evening as well as being available on line....

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Posted by: John Belcher, Joyford Hill, 14 February 2011

Just listened to thr HOOF CD. Terrific. Get out and buy it now mi awld butties. If you want to know the true history of the Forest of Dean, there is an FOD Timeline booklet for sale at the Dean Heritage Centre. Very cheap, because it's an abridged version, but full of relevant facts. There is also a superb collection of books exclusively on the Forest of Dean for sale as well. Our shop of local products functions solely to finance the costs of running our museum, the heritage soul of the Dean. The fire damage is repaired, we are on our way again with great plans for the future. Come and use us you Forest folk and keep our history alive for our children and our children's children. We are a Charitable Trust and need sufficient income to keep the predators at bay.

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Posted by: John Belcher, Joyford Hill, 13 February 2011

Some facts for 'mr minority'. The Forestry Commission was set up in 1924, which makes it 87 years old. It was made a 'National Forest Park' in 1938. The Forest has been worked by local people for over 2,000 years. There is nothing natural about it, above or below ground. That's why Foresters claim it as there OWN Forest. THEY CREATED IT! Harry Beddington said that "All the long-eared uns b'yunt vour-legged" and zurry o was 'im spot on. If I wuz thee awld'un I'd kip quiut vrum now on. all the

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Posted by: Richard J Turner-Thomas, Wales, 12 February 2011

Save Our Forest petition has gone through the 500,000 signature barrier today Facebook petition has 140,000 signatures The Woodland Trust has well over 100,000 Combine this with the 1/2 dozen local petitions and the total comes out at around 3/4 of a million This is the concerned Brish Public protesting and showing just how much they love our National PUBLIC Forests. The combined petitions are equal in size to the entire populations of Westminster,Manchester and Gloucester cities. It is now a MASSIVE PROTEST. Keep up the pressure. Kind Regards .Richard

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 12 February 2011

Just another point for Mr. Minority (below). I assume you are not elderly or disabled or a father of a young child because if you were you might like to enjoy the forest as well and need well maintained tracts to access it. At the moment this work is carried out by the forestry commission.

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 12 February 2011

Actually the latest research shows that the country was never covered in Forest or Wild Wood (see Francis Vera – Grazing Ecology and Forest History). Ancient Woodland is wood land that has been managed and worked - there is no wild forest left in this country. In the past the people of the Forest of Dean had always worked our Forest in a sustainable way from coppicing, pollarding and using wood pasture and the wildlife has evolved naturally within this human working environment. The forestry commission have had a policy of returning some of the old plantations back to ancient wood land by natural regeneration and careful management to increase biodiversity and conservation. This cost money and has been financed by timber sales, etc. Much private woodland has been left unmanaged and consequently the bio diversity has been lost.

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Posted by: mr minority, coleford, 12 February 2011

The Forestry Commission are only 55 years old, ancient woods are 400 years old minimum, what is everyone protecting? Status Quo never got anyone anywhere. You dont need 70 million pounds per annum to grow forests, the entire country was a forest originally. If you need surfaced tracks to enjoy the forest then you dont understand forests. FC should go Forests will stay.

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Posted by: Michael Evison, United Kingdom, 11 February 2011

If we do not act soon to stop the Government woodland sell off, we will not be able to see the woods for the SLEAZE!

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Posted by: Jaqui Fabian, Lydbrook, 11 February 2011

Just a reminder to all that there are no official public rights of way in the Forest, except the Gloucestershire Way and the Wye Valley Walk, so Mark Harper claiming that these will be protected is hiding behind the language once again.

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Posted by: Green Man, Berry Hill, 11 February 2011

Has Mubarak been in charge of the sale of forests? Give a little here, give a little there and hope that the protestors will go away. Well he's gone, displaced by people power. We Foresters must take this as an example and keep slugging our way to victory. We don't want any false dawns. Don't trust our MP and his 'Mob' one inch. Greet every Govt move with cynicism. No compromise.

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Posted by: sarah french, forest of dean, 11 February 2011

I see the HOOF cd are out, where and when can we buy them?

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 9 February 2011

I have just received a newsletter which comes from the "eGov Monitor" organisation. There is an item on Forestry sale which may interest supporters of HOOF. http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/40639

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 9 February 2011

Felicity's idea is great. I have also sent an email headed "Government plans for the English public forests" to Secretary Spelman, as follows: "Dear Secretary of State, Please can you tell me when the White Paper on the above will be published. Should I wait to read it before completing my consultation paper? Has the Green Paper already been published?" I've had no reply yet!!! Maybe if a large number of similar emails were to wing their way towards her it might cause some response.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 8 February 2011

If, like me you think the consultation document leaves a lot to be desired, then how about doing what someone mentioned in a comment to a Telegraph article today - she had sent a letter to Caroline Spelman at DEFRA saying: "I have read the DEFRA consultation document and after careful consideration I have decided that I want the Forestry Commission to continue to manage the public forests. I enclose my payment of 30p, in advance, for the benefits I look forward to enjoying in 2012." Inspired! My 30p is on its way!

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 8 February 2011

I also have just watched the videos of the meeting and noted that Harper referred to the people locked outside in the rain as a “mob” at the beginning of his presentation. This was two hours before someone threw an egg and missed.

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Posted by: John B., joyford hill, 7 February 2011

I've just viewed the Forester video of the Great (Harper) Escape. I didn't realise anyone could run down an empty stairway so fast. Obviously pre-arranged. One moment talking calmly and then Wow!off he hared, with a one-man police escort trying to keep up, through the doors, off to the police wagon and away, with frustrated Foresters, mainly of the more mature variety, trying desperately to chase after and question him. Violence? they weren't quick enough. How undignified. Why didn't he walk out the front with his head held high and interact with those who had stood around in the wind and rain getting more and more frustrated. As today's kids would say "Respect Man". I also enjoyed the 'tough' Tory stewards looking threateningly towards an OAP barracker in the back. Perhaps they didn't know that he was ex-army. Alastair, your too old for that awld butty. This will be a great hit on YouTube and Facebook, I'm sure. What really upset me Mr Harper, was that you sneaked this meeting in on the night that England played Wales in the Millenium Stadium and I'd already paid for the Curry and International night at Berry Hill RFC. Obviously not very sporty then. May I suggest you hire Gloucester Cathedral next time Mr Harper. The Bishop would be pleased to Chair the meeting in a proper manner I'm sure and it may just hold all those who would wish to attend. Their PA system is superb. Or will there be a next time?

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 7 February 2011

Sorry if my choice of medium has confused my point. I was standing outside in Coleford on Friday and saw plenty of anger, but NO violence, and NO attack, the Telegraph report in NO way illustrates the experiences of those who attended. I saw NO eggs and have been told by people who were standing closer to the side door that they saw none. I made my own small efforts in advance to ensure that people knew that violence or disruption was unwanted and counterproductive so was very pleased to observe the crown behaving impeccably. Harper has no further excuse for avoiding his constituents as a result of our behaviour at that meeting.

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Posted by: Bruce Hogan, Lydbrook, 7 February 2011

Mark Harper’s discomfort when he was asked if the current forestry consultation document was a Green Paper or a White Paper was palpable. Having promised his constituents full consultation once the ,”White Paper” was published he didn’t have the spunk to admit that the consultation document was neither. The normal process of Green Paper followed by White Paper followed by Bill has been shamefully ignored. Instead, the Public Bodies Bill currently being debated in Parliament, with no preceding Green or White Paper, will give ministers the power to do what they want with England’s public forest estate. It will remove the special protection currently afforded to the Forest of Dean. The results of the consultation may inform or influence minister’s decisions, but that is all. Already, Caroline Spelman the Secretary of State for the Environment has been forced by public pressure to concede that the Public Bodies Bill, as currently drafted, will have to be amended to protect the so called “heritage forests”, but we are yet to see a draft of that amendment. Mark Harper MP was sent to Parliament by his electorate to be their legislator. He has consistently refused to meet his constituents to discuss the legislation, i.e. the Public Bodies Bill, even though it has been in the public domain since October 2010. Coupled to this, he asserted that as a minister he was not allowed to speak in parliamentary debates on any issue, including the recent forestry debate, which is not within his portfolio. It appears we have an MP for the Forest of Dean who refuses to discuss current legislation with his constituents and can’t speak up in parliament on forestry issues. Is it any wonder he is now held in contempt by so many of his previous supporters?

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Posted by: Shakeshisheadindisbelief, Coleford, 7 February 2011

Karl, very droll. But Harper has now been given the PERFECT excuse to avoid any further public meetings. Let me guess......a private meeting behind closed doors with three representatives of the campaign? I reckon that will be about right now. But hey....what do I know?

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Posted by: Patricia Gardener, Bristol, 7 February 2011

Good luck to the campaign. As the great grand daughter of Foresters (Henry & Sophia Rudge of Bream) I am proud to have connections with the Forest and have spent many lovely days out there. The Forests of this country belong to US and no one should try and change this. Supporting you all the way. The Gardener Family - Bristol

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Posted by: Steven Parry-Hearn, Clearwell, 6 February 2011

Hi all. Firstly I hope the person who's foot was driven over by the police van on Friday night is going to be allright. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I have found something that perhaps we should all be aware of, it may explain the reason Mr Harper is so reluctant to support us. Please visit You Tube HANDS OFF OUR FOREST OF DEAN: Public Bodies Bill, a guide Good luck everyone Steve Parry-Hearn Clearwell

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Posted by: Former Forester, Cambridge, 6 February 2011

It has come to my attention that 2011 is the UN International Year of Forests! http://www.un.org/en/events/iyof2011/ Why has this Tory-lead government launched an assault on England's Forests at a time when the rest of the world is celebrating the protection and replanting of forests across the globe? Is this some kind of attack by the Nasty-Party on 'foreigners' or 'Europe', or is it just straightforward incompetence? Judging by the behaviour of Mark Harper MP at the recent meeting in the Forest of Dean, it is both nasty and incompetent.

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 6 February 2011

Mark Harper has bravely survived an encounter with a baying mob including young girls, and a high percentage of viscious pensioners, many with mobility issues. In one terrifying moment - the courageous MP was nearly overcome by a prolonged barrage involving an egg - luckily - he was speeding from the scene at the time, and had it not been for the lucky break that he was in an riot van, surrounded by a police bodyguard and that by a million to one stoke of luck the egg missed; there could certainly have been a far more serious consequence. The police were taking no chances thank goodness - and were forced to run over an insurgent, attempting to foil Mark's escape on the way out. "Please talk to us Mark" - the attacker had spat as he disappeared under the wheels, leaving little doubt of what was intended. The terrifying event has led to calls for the police to be routinely armed

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 6 February 2011

I have had a brief run through of the "consultation" paper. To make effective responses it would be useful if we could have an agreed HOOF response. Indeed if HOOF are going to join forces with other groups, then perhaps a wider agreement to our response could be made. Once we have a reasoned response we can all flood the consultation web site with our answers. Perhaps HOOF could put the consultation paper and accompanying map on the web site for easy access. Whilst the hope is the Government will back down completely, we should be ready to continue on all fronts and that includes responding to the "consultation" paper.

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 6 February 2011

I watched on TV the Commons debate last week and felt that none of those speaking for the Government sounded very convincing. Some of the most cogent criticism of the Government's plans came from some of their own MPs.

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Posted by: christiearno@talktalk.net, newland, 6 February 2011

Re todays press reports of Harper Consultation meeting, "anger" "Violent" "running for his life" "HAD to be given police protection" I was one of those outside in rain and wind, surrounded by ,with respect, a very large number of pensioners. Unable to join the consultation we expressed ourselves loudly from outside, despite frustration and discomfort the mood of the crowd was very good. I spoke to several of the police, they said how they applauded the ingenuity of the forester, (pole-posting the windows with our banner)and "their stoicism" in that weather...So Mr Harper just Why did you feel the need to run out of the back door into a police van banners ? Mr Harper, you really must grow up. The way out of a meeting to your waiting constituents is through the front door. An apololgy would have been appreciated.

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Posted by: Gerald A Cooke, Longhope, 6 February 2011

Caroline Spelman on the The Politcs Show today. She didn't seem very convincing, even when asked against the background of rumours that the Condemn parties are backing off "so the lady is not for turning yet", smiled and said quietly 'No' Her fall-back position seems to be we have to improve protection and we have to change the 'conflict of interest'.

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Posted by: Green Man, Berry Hill, 6 February 2011

Everything Alistair Fraser does is for Alistair Fraser. Believe me, I've seen him in action. Captive wild boar, captive wild deer, exotic ducks with their wings pinioned and their pond perimeter electrified, capture the legendary black panther and putit on display. Get on the Planning Committe to get permission for a 'wildlife' type park in the Alvington area with unclassified road access. All of these little schemes turned down. But good old Alistair, don't you worry, he's full of 'em. This 'leader' of a charitable trust is just the latest. He's obviously fooled one gullible bloke already, but the rest of us aren't so daft mate.

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Posted by: Averil Kear, Oldcroft, 5 February 2011

The following was a paragraph from Mark Harper’s maiden speech in the Commons on 24th May 2005 at 5.45pm I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my predecessor but one, Paul Marland, the former Member for Gloucestershire, West and to thank him for leaving behind a very positive reputation that cannot but have helped my campaign to be elected to the House. I have lived in the Forest of Dean for more than five years and the most enjoyable thing about the years leading up to my election has been getting to know many remarkable people. There is a strong tradition of independence and individuality in the Forest of Dean, so I hope that I will demonstrate at least some of that while I am here DISPOSAL OF LAND – Speech by Paul Marland MP HC Deb 08 July 1981 vol 8 cc502-13 The right of access to the Forest of Dean is vital, for the forest is becoming more and more widely recognised as a national forest park, where people come to seek rest and relaxation. As the price of petrol rises, more and more people are tending to come from the Midlands with their cars and caravans rather than continue their journey to Devon and Cornwall. The trails and forest walks enjoyed by those visitors are not legally recognised but are permitted and established due to the understanding nature of the Forestry Commission. Because of the lack of legally recognised rights of common, of access and of forest trails and footpaths, it was vital that the forest be excluded from the Bill. I am pleased to tell the House that Lord McNair recognised our plight in another place and undertook to move his own amendment to recognise the special difficulties facing the Forest of Dean. Happily, not only the Gloucestershire peers but many others in that place saw the validity of the case and prevailed upon the Government to reconsider and to amend the Bill to its present form. I am grateful to the Ministers concerned, and especially to my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who was not at all agreeable in the early stages. Getting the Government to change their mind is no easy task. I thank all those who contributed so much to the crusade, for a crusade was how we saw it. I am happy to say that it was one that transcended all political differences. One of them left behind a positive reputation for listening and supporting his constituents !!

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Posted by: Harry, Hayes, Middlesex, 5 February 2011

I have written to John McDonnell (MP for Hayes & Harlington). Have not yet received a reply but he has already spoken out against the plans during the debate on Wednesday. He posted the following comment on twitter: "Spoke in Commons opposing sell off of Forestry Commission to oppose sell off & to draw attention to the 300 staff that are being sacked too." Received a reply from Lord Taverson (Lib Dem) yesterday: "Many thanks for your letter about the forestry issue in the public bodies bill. I understand entirely your concern. I strongly suspect that given the very pronounced negative reaction to the proposal, that the Government will find a way out of this situation before the bill receives Royal Assent. However, I will continue to keep a close eye on the issue." A bit more positive there. Oh, and forgot to add that my reply from Caroline Spelman on the 29th December read simply: "you have nothing to fear" Not even a dear... or at the very least a capital letter!

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Posted by: Chris Morris, Longhope, 5 February 2011

Of all the issues concerning the culture, habits and history of Dean, that makes it so special, for many it is the industrial heritage that makes our area unique. Any walk in the woods provides insights into the old workings - from the timber clad tips rearing up like giant molehills (at Northern and Cannop) to tiny features like old loading walls, stone lined ditches and abandoned buildings. The very landscape bears witness to the sweat and effort of the men labouring beneath and this is the true heritage and memorial to the men and women of the Forest. The Forestry Commission, after years of shameful neglect, have lately shown a proper interest: I wonder what safeguards any new custodian of the Forest, whether a private company or charity, would put in place to cherish what might look like insignificant features in the woods but which represent this important legacy.

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Posted by: Geof Kinns, Cinderford, 5 February 2011

I hope we can all keep our eye on the ball and not get distracted into kicking the man. Apply some thought and take advice from HOOF about using the consultation document to good effect, and continue to lobby the Lords to amend the Public Bodies Bill.

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Posted by: carolyn black, Newnham on Severn, 5 February 2011

Mr Melbourne, do you think Cr. Fraser will ensure indigenous animals and species are kept here? such as camels, and err, llama's? If a Charity runs the forest, how many experienced and knowledgeable forestry specialists can afford to give up their free time to volunteer on the Board? would you like your doctor or dentist to be an unqualfied volunteer? I suspect not!

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 5 February 2011

It seems that Harper's little team of buffoons have launched a "media offensive"... *yawn*.

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Posted by: Hugh Templeman, West Cumbria, 5 February 2011

Have you any details about the National Protest Convention on Feb 26th? Keep up the good work - Save Lakelands Forests have their next rally on Feb 19th at Whinlatter near Keswick at 1pm.

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Posted by: mr melbourne, newland, 5 February 2011

I agree with Imipak and Mark Harper. I think we should give the Forest of Dean to Councillor Alastair Fraser to run. He would do a jolly good job!

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 5 February 2011

In a long professional life I have read, analysed and written a large number of complex technical documents. Very many of my friends and colleagues who also support HOOF can say the same. I am therefore baffled by the hysterical assertion by Imipak that we have all been completely misled by wicked HOOF propoganda and have all misunderstood what the government and our MP have been saying about their plans for England's public forests. Clearly Imipak believes he or she has a much deeper understanding of the issues than the rest of us, so please would Imipak spell out in detail where we have gone wrong and why he or she is right. And perhaps also provide some sound basis as to why we should believe what he or she has written.

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Posted by: Imipak, Staunton, Coleford, 5 February 2011

I completely disagree with HOOF. You seem determined to valiantly take on and defeat a figment of your own imaginations. I'm definitely NOT a conservative, but I'll be voting Tory for the first time in my life in 2015 to support Mark Harper in the face of the horrific ignorance, hate, and inability to understand plain English displayed by HOOF.

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Posted by: Martin Spoor, Blakeney, 5 February 2011

I would like to congratulate HOOF on a remarkably well conducted campaign. I know the battle is not won, but it is clear it soon will be, and this is undoubtedly down to the expert leadership of HOOF. You have combined considerable skill and strategic vision with the passion that we all feel. Your devotion on behalf of the rest of us must be recognised. Well done.

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Posted by: simon, Blakeney, 5 February 2011

Michael, I agree up to a point. Mark Harper SHOULD have done all those things, and the damage he has done to his reputation will never be repaired. His crass stupidity has probably cost him his seat (although I should imagine a "safe seat" has been promised somewhere!). He wasn't, however, escorted by a dozen police officers. There were only about a dozen on duty and, when the exit happened, seven of them were at the front door. Unfortunately we can now be assured of a heavier police presence at the next meeting.

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Posted by: Green Man, berry hill, 5 February 2011

Unfortunately, if there is a continued blindness by Mr Harper to the passionate views of his constituents, things are only going to get worse. There is a hardening of attitudes, not helped by the economic policies of a Govt. that is causing the closure of the many basic building blocks of our society as Councils struggle with massive debts, while others award themselves massive bonuses and pay rises, while at the same time avoiding paying their income tax. Example:- George Osborne avoided paying £1.6 million in taxes last year. Enough to finance our Forest for a whole year. I fear that we've seen nothing yet.

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Posted by: Michael, Forest of Dean, 5 February 2011

The events at the end of the meeting on 4 February have obviously upset some of those who were there but we need to consider why they happened. The events arose because our MP ignored the crowd outside. This is always a very silly thing for politicians to do. We had waited for 2 hours in wind and rain. After the meeting our MP should have spoken to us from one of the windows at the back of the meeting room - these can be opened wide enough for a voice to carry. There would have been a lot of heckling for a while but this would have quietened down and he could then have said the obvious thing which is that he would arrange a new meeting with more notice at a bigger venue. The police Inspector could then have addressed the crowd and asked us to give the MP safe passage out of the front door to his waiting car. The crowd was predominantly middle-aged and respectable. No violence would have been done if our MP had addressed it and then left quietly in his own vehicle. What actually happened was that he ignored the crowd at the front door and was literally rushed out of the back door of the building surrounded by a dozen uniformed police officers (I counted), bundled into a waiting police personnel carrier, and driven away at speed. Talking to other members of the crowd I got the impression that whilst the main motive for attending was to protest against the government's proposals for the Forest of Dean and the other national forests there was another motive which is a strong sense of betrayal by the man who was elected to represent this constituency but who seems to have avoided and ignored his constituents during the process that has brought us to this point. Running away under a police guard has done nothing to enhance our MP's reputation. A brief speech to the crowd would have taken courage but it would have done a lot of good. Running away like that did a lot of harm. Our MP needs to do two things very quickly. First, he needs to get the DEFRA consultation document amended to include the option of maintaining the status quo. Second, as soon as this has been done, he needs to convene a public meeting in the largest possible venue at which he can genuinely consult his constituents about what they want. If he shows at least some sign of genuinely consulting his constituents and taking genuine account of the results of that consultation this would start to repair the damage that has been done.

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Posted by: Simon, Blakeney, 5 February 2011

Well, a big "thank you" to the few idiots that ruined a peaceful, if vociferous, protest against the Forest sell-off. Yes, the venue was ridiculously small. Yes, the notice given was ridiculously short. And Yes, Mark Harper has clearly demonstrated his complete lack of understanding of the level of feeling of his constituents. But the behaviour of a small minority for a few minutes at the end has gone some way to destroying the credibility of HOOF as a peaceful and dignified campaign. Abuse was shouted, Mark Harper was chased and eggs were thrown. Forgive me, but I didn't notice any egg shops open at The Main Place.....could it be that they were brought with the express intention of being thrown? I wonder........ The campaign to date has been dignified, respectful and effective. Of course people are angry, disappointed, worried and frustrated, but whilst the pressure must be kept up and increased, the Government are on their back foot. How dare a few idiots try to throw away everything that has been achieved by the vast majority of campaigners for their own ends? VERY short sighted, selfish and ignorant. For everyone that attended, either inside or outside, and behaved in a dignified and civilised manner, thank you. It was cold and wet but that in itself graphically demonstrated the commitment of the people to this worthwhile cause. For those that voiced their protest as requested by HOOF, BRILLIANT. For those that tried to throw away the moral high-ground - SHAME ON YOU....and please don't bother coming to the next rally,demonstration, meeting or march. Oh, and thank you to the police and stewards - all local people - who allowed us to demostrate without interference. please accept MY apology for the invidious situation some people put you in at the end.

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Posted by: dave, forestofdreams, 5 February 2011

mr harper , again showed no respect to foresters . due to choice of venue 200 people stood for 2 hours in pouring rain , i am very proud of you . HOOF must now insist that next public meeting is held in the heart of the forest Cinderford at miners welfare .he is our representative ,his duty is to put forward our views

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Posted by: Piers, St. Briavels, 5 February 2011

A few thoughts whilst the Public Meeting is still fresh in my mind... Firstly, there was quite awful chairing by Brian Thornton. He was that bad that I felt sorry for Harper! It was clear from the start that the place, facilities and time were not appropriate for this meeting. Harper's initial address was drowned out by those outside. The meeting moved on to questions. These were, without exception, anti the proposals. I thought that Thornton would have placed some plants! Harper constantly referred to the consultation and that the Forest would not be sold off. He suggested that we should all complete the consultation. I thought that the atmosphere was generally good natured although there was clearly a deal of emotion in the room. Harper will have no doubt that nobody supports his government's proposals.

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Posted by: Andy C, Cinderford, 4 February 2011

Just back from the public meeting in Coleford where we stood outside for two and a half hours; disappointed that people's frustrations at any acknowledgement by Mark Harper led to a swift exit and crowd around the Police van. Was a very good natured crowd outside so shame if the last minute overshadows the previous few hours. Let's hope 'public meetings' in the future are held a bit more publicly in a bigger venue, although The Main Place does look nice! Also shame no audio outside so we had to rely on people who'd managed to get in for some (worrying) feedback about how meeting went....

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Posted by: Ocean, Hereford, 4 February 2011

I feel it is vitally important to educate ourselves about the issues underlying the current round of cuts and sell-offs. Our forests are being sold to raise money to pay off the national debt. This debt has been accrued due to an unstable economy. The economy is unstable because it is built upon a private money supply created through fractional reserve banking. If we have any hope of protecting our forests in the long term we must stabilise the economy through monetary reform. To find out more, come to an information evening at the Friends Meeting House, 21 King Street, Hereford. 7.30, Monday 7th Feb or see www.positivemoney.org

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Posted by: Green Man, berry hill, 3 February 2011

So the school sneak syndrome is still alive, with Masters Harper and Amos both behaving in an underhand way. Why am I not surprised? Totally untrustworthy behaviour that will rebound on them. As for Arrogant Steve and Animal Alistair, they're a bad joke that leaves a foul taste in the mouth.

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Posted by: Dennis Downey, Herefordshire, 3 February 2011

We have walked in the Forest of Dean, leading coach parties of walkers, from all over the country, this has totalled 1500 prople during 2010.just consider what they spent and the loss that would affect the local economy if access to the forest is removed. Walkherefordshire.com

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Posted by: Alexandra Jennings, Gloucester, 3 February 2011

Absolutely terrible, the government we have are senseless, selfish and non-imaginative, they should sell off something else, or force the banks to pay more tax, but why forests, the forest of dean and every other forest deserve a voice, and that is what we will give them!

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Posted by: Sinbad, Norwich, 3 February 2011

"We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive"

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Posted by: Sinbad, Norwich, 3 February 2011

Foresters deserve a meeting they were promised, tomorrows proposed meeting is unacceptable! Another one should be demanded by an means necessary!

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Posted by: dave, forestofdreams, 3 February 2011

Just read info on main hoof page , firstly it stated room for meeting will hold a few dozen people , asked people to attend and listen quietly 24 hours notice to adress a few dozen is not accountable , he is meant to represent all of us .All foresters have a right to be there. and voice their opinions quietly or otherwise

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Posted by: dave, Forest of Dreams, 3 February 2011

The public meeting called by the MP for forest at 24hours notice at best 48hrs , at a venue which holds less than 100 , to answer questions , for 60 minutes , is totally unacceptable. I think we should disrupt meeting and call for a venue and time when all concerned foresters can have a voice .

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 3 February 2011

The "thieves" have won the vote in house of commons. As many as possible should turn up at the Main Place, Coleford, Friday 4th February 7pm to tell Mr. Harper exactly what we think of the Governments ideas.

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 2 February 2011

Colin Knapman - Well observed! - the almost total absence of the HOOF campaign, (other than to call us a "vocal minority", hysterical etc.) from the pages of the Citizen newspaper reminded me of Iraq's propaganda minister Mohammad Said Sahhaf aka "Comical Ali"'s reports of how Iraq was winning the war and about to crush our allies in a "mother of all battles". At this rate Ian Mean will only have a handful of readers for his "Citizen" newspaper - Mark Harper, Venk Shenoi, Peter Amos and Steve McMillan no doubt among them, but then everyone likes to read about themselves...

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Posted by: Former Forester, Cambridge, 2 February 2011

I grew up in the Forest of Dean. My childhood among the woods and fields was punctuated by farmers ripping out hedgerows and cutting down small stands of trees in order to extend their crop areas. I still vividly remember one farmer digging out an entire hedgerow the day before laws came into effect to protect them. He was later prosecuted for fiddling milk quotas, but that didn't bring the hedge back. This type of behaviour is what happens when private and commercial forces are unleashed onto the countryside - it simply causes the destruction of habitats for personal gain. It would be no different for the forests themselves. Forestry Commission land must be kept out of the hands of big business. It must also be adequately supported to ensure that it can help to maintain biodiversity and much needed public green space. The plans of the current government cannot guarantee this and that's why they must be opposed.

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Posted by: Averil Kear, Oldcroft, Forest of Dean, 2 February 2011

In response to Steve White from Northumberland I would just like to say that HOOF are naturally concerned primarily with the unique status of our Forest. At the same time, we are resisting the sell-off or transfer of any of England’s public forests and any reduction in the Forestry Commission’s current management role.In fact plans are already under way to invite other Forest cam,paign groups from all over the country to attend a National Protest Convention on February 26th so that we can all share views of how to move forward

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Posted by: colin knapman, Hucclecote, 2 February 2011

Just a comment about our so-called impartial news media in the area. I've written to the Gloucester Citizen three times now about their outrageous article last weekend which lectured the masses that there was never anything to worry about and that the Government was, all along, going to ensure that ownership of the Forests would be placed with a charity of some description. Moreover, a local (Forest) councillor wrote, very disparagingly, about HOOF, as if its campaign was misleading the public at large. These people simply cannot be trusted and I applaude HOOF for its position regarding the future of the Forest. The Govt simply has no mandate to take this kind of action. It was elected to address a major economic deficit not to monkey around with our heritage. Let's keep the pressure on!

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Posted by: Bob, wilts (ex FOD), 2 February 2011

In answer to Andy, I understand your comment but unfortunately it is large scale management that our forests need. large numbers of small scale owners doing their own thing would be a prime cause of forests degrading. I would love 100 acres (even if only to keep the inheritance tax down) but the Dean and other areas are best served with management by a large scale organisation.

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Posted by: Andy Risius, Hampshire, 2 February 2011

I am one of many people who would love to own a little bit of forest, just for the pleasure it brings. I think I have enough money saved to buy 5 or 10 acres. I have no intention of fencing it, cutting trees (except one per year for my fireplace please), building anything, or stopping any access by anyone. I am very willing to clear brambles and plant acorns. Is it me that you are frightened of - or is it some other purchaser who worries you so much? Andy

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Posted by: Steve White, Northumberland, 2 February 2011

Have visited the forest of Dean on many occasions its lovely, but would rather see a campaign to stop all the forests from this sell off not just to make a special case for one forest.

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 2 February 2011

I would like to say a HUGE thank you for all the amazing work that HOOF is doing!

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Posted by: Richard J Turner-Thomas, Wales, 1 February 2011

If you combined the total populations of Winchester , Truro , Gloucester , Hereford , Wells , St Davids , Monmouth , Chepstow , Lydney , Coleford , and Cinderford that would be about equal in size to the Save Our Forest petition as it powers its way past the 400,000 signatures. That is 7 cities and 5 towns. That is the wonderful British public arriving in support of our forests. The Forest of Dean is in the forefront of the Save Our Forest campaign.My great great grandfather/grandmother are buried in the Forest of Dean and it is sacred to me.With Ed Millibands letter to the Sunday Times on Sunday last I am hopeful that we will have a lot of support from the opposition parties in Parliament on tomorrows crucial debate.Throw in the nature lovers , cyclists , horse riders , walkers , runners , families of the Tory/Libs and we may start to see the government back peddling.That is not enough 93 was the last time this was attempted. These people need to learn that these are PUBLIC forests 84% is huge.This petition could easily go to 1 million and prove how the Public love their forests and woodlands.It would be political suicide to ignore this fact.Save Our Forests asked their supporters to raise £20,000 they were given over £60,000 to fund the national newspaper ads tomorrow.All the MP's reading their morning papers will see them.When foresters burned down an effigy of the tower of Big Ben at Speech House Meadow on that snow filled freezing January morning perhaps the government should have back peddled then.What a heart warming sight that was for me to see that 3,000 plus crowd coming from all directions out of the Forest of Dean Power to your elbows Kind Regards Richard J Turner-Thomas

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Posted by: Robin Warren, Lydney, 1 February 2011

No doubt like many others, I have received another missive from our M.P. following the publication of the White Paper. I have found the White Paper itself and the Consultation Questions hard to digest! One interesting point appeared in the M.P.'s letter, however, which I had not found anywhere else - the option of our Forest remaining in public ownership. This states "I am very pleased that the Secretary of State has confirmed that the Government will amend the Public Bodies Bill so that the Forest of Dean could only be transferred to a charitable organisation or remain in public ownership, in line with the policy set out in the consultation". Maybe the best action now will be for as many as possible to respond to the consultation, pointing this out, stating this is our preferrred option. Petitions and ralles will not reach those responsible for analysing the responses.

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Posted by: Jono Taylor, Stonehouse, Glos, 31 January 2011

Selling off will raise such a paltry amount of money, but allow such a massive amount of damage to be done. The forests should remain public property. This government needs to make strong choices and we need to use this opportunity to put GB back on the global map as a pioneering nation. Do something bold and future looking. This is not it.

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Posted by: David Norman, Longhope, 31 January 2011

Rob Craigan is right, there is a risk of "divide and rule" if we forget to defend all the forests in favour of just ours. And I suspect the government is also trying another favourite tactic - float all sorts of dire proposals, then offer one that is slightly less alarming in the hope that we'll all breath a sigh of relief and accept it. Don't let's be fooled. What we want is: NO CHANGE TO THE STATUS QUO, ANYWHERE!!!

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Posted by: marta Ainley, Cinderford, 31 January 2011

I do not trust any MP due to the fact that they tow their party line and lose sight of the interests of their electors. In part we deserve this because let them get away with it. It took an American journalist to come here and uncover the expenses scandal.

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Posted by: rob craigan, norfolk, 30 January 2011

As an amateur historian my advice to anyone contemplating this issue is to start your thought proccess from the basis of " you can`t trust em " and you will usualy reach the right conclussion . The feature in January`s edition of private eye should provide initial food for thought . Regarding the reprieve granted the Forest of Dean again study your history under the heading of divide and conquer . The goverment will no doubt be hoping that all the Dean protesters and other groups who have won thier own protests will happily drift off home contented rather than continue the protest on a national basis making it easier to bulldoze the sell off through . Afterwards a short time they will mop up the spared forests at various intervals . The goverment propaganda machine expects us to believe that entrepeneurs will spend thousands on buying and maintaining the forests. The truth is of course is that these vultures are only intrested in turning investments into mega profits . We have the lowest average disposable income in western europe , work the longest hours , have the least amount of public holidays but it seems they have`nt finished squeezing the final drops of what little quality of life is left to us . 5% of the population owns 90% of the land in the u.k. but its not enough for them ! Forest of Dean protesters don`t go to bed yet the fights not finished we need you stand alongside those of us who`s woodland is still threatened . And a prediction for the record , it will be national parks next !

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Posted by: Nicky Proffitt, Oxfordshire, 30 January 2011

How dare this government with no clear mandate to rule, attempt to dispose of publicly-owned forest? If this plan was in the Cons or Lib-Dems Manifesto it was definately in the very-small print section!

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Posted by: Sonja, USA, 30 January 2011

Tell every tree hugger you know to start using tree free toilet paper. There is one called Bum Boosa Bamboo Bathroom Tissue. And they plant a tree for every 4 rolls. Recycled content tp is not good. It leaves BPAs in the septic which eventually contaminate ground water.

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Posted by: john belcher, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 30 January 2011

I did, of course mean 'hypocrisy' for Mr Alexander's actions.

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Posted by: john belcher, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 30 January 2011

Even if you don't normally read the paper, rush out and buy a copy of the Sunday Times. A full-page story on the ConDems proposed plans for the Forests; an editorial advising Caroline Spellman to 'quietly' drop the whole thing and an article by Ed Milliband opposing the sale of English forests. It also exposes the continued hypocracy of Coalition Minister Danny Alexander. The paper is firmly on our side, unlike that local rag, the Gloucester Citizen.

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Posted by: Larry K. Reynolds, Riverside, California USA, 29 January 2011

Being an avid anglophile (my grandparents from St. Austel), I attended the Morgan Centenary summer of 2009 and stayed for 2 weeks in the Forest of Dean and enjoyed every minute of various explorations in the Forest. It would be a tragedy if this resource was lost to the citizens as proposed.

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 29 January 2011

Derrick Jensen is an environmental writer and activist who wrote "Strangely Like War: The Global Assault On Forests". It sounds like essential reading for anyone interested in protecting our forests anywhere in the world. Go to www.derrickjensen.org

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Posted by: Mazie, Skelmerdale, 29 January 2011

I heard somewhere that they were only going to sell of the forests of England, not Britain. And while I dont want any forest to be sold, why just attack England anyway. Yes I don't want this forest to go. I live next to a country park and its made by man. but I dont' want to see it privitised. Theres a golf club on half of it. don't want to see the rest go. But I write, I wrote about that park, it is my inpiration, without I'd never of wrote anything. I want to be able to do something about each forest and green space. As I said I wrote about my own park but it seems from the pictures of the forest of dean, they have the same atmosphere and life blood. And this is how I feel: Thousands of speckles in the sky, Some drifting down form high, Others floating along the silent breeze, And falling evenly; beneath the trees. Along the bank of rusty red, A foaming snake of green lead, And flecks of silver; flex and thrash, Amongst the bubbling froth they bash, In the shadows of the stream; A population of bells gleam, And break the darkness, by purple hue; Downcast by burden, from the dew.

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Posted by: Cliff Buxton, Lydney, 28 January 2011

When Mark Harper was first elected, he said he would put the Forest of Dean and it's people first.His actions now show that this was nothing but blatant electioneering, and he has now reneged on that pledge. so once you win a seat and get yourself into Parliament, you can quietly forget about the people your supposed to be representing.

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Posted by: Green Man, berry hill, 28 January 2011

Watch out for Mr Harper's familiars saying what a great chap he is. They ignore the fact that we don't want change. We don't want to run our Forest independently. A Charitable Trust is not needed and will be very difficult to run without adequate year by year funding. If it went bust, the recievers could sell it off to the highest bidder. Also a Govt. Minister could change the law under the public bodies bill and grab it back.

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Posted by: ERNEST BARTON, LONDON, 28 January 2011

As a Londoner I used to visit friends in Newland and walk in the forest - conscious of how much larger it once was. Parceling it out to developers would be the ultimate insult to the long struggle to take the forest into Public Ownership and free it from the Norman Yolk.

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Posted by: Richard J Turner-Thomas, Wales, 27 January 2011

It is only 3 days since the petition on Save Our Forests broke the 200,000 signature barrier Tonight it is powering upward approching the 275,000 mark I am hopeful this petition will go through the 300,000 signature barrier by Saturday Next week is going to be a big rise as national media highlights the danger to our forests The Forest of Dean has a huge amount of friends in the UK and they will be coming to help your cause as they become aware As a final point a mature broadleaf tree exhales enough oxygen in a season to sustain 10 humans for a years supply Millions of them are under threat That is the very air that we breathe Richard J Turner-Thomas

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Posted by: Peter Holmes, Worcestershire, 27 January 2011

I've just completed the lengthy 'consultation', including many comments on each section. But I note, despite the many detailed questions, nowhere did it ask the simple question 'Do you agree with the Government's proposal for the forest estate?'. I wonder why?

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Posted by: Karen Sheppard, Coleford, 27 January 2011

I moved to the Forest of Dean some eight years ago and have never felt so much at home. The Forest is one of the most beautiful places in the world and to sell this off would be a big mistake. This government have stated that it would be charity run and will not be sold off to the private sector. Thats this government, what about when the next lot come in and change the boundries..this is the first move down a lippery slope...DON'T LET IT HAPPEN, STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIVE IN!!

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Posted by: Roger Thorne, Detroit Airport!!!, 27 January 2011

Just about to leave USA at the end of my trip and am on my way home to connect up again with the fight to save our Forest. Have just read the consultation document and much of it contains reason after reason why our forests should NOT be sold! How anyone can make such statements and then argue that things should change is beyond me. A clear case of dogma overruling commonsense.

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Posted by: Bob, North Wilts (ex FOD), 27 January 2011

I am slightly concerned that there is no reference on this site to the recently published FC criteria for selling woodlands. See http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/Selection_criteria_for_sales_of_FC_land_in_2011.pdf/$file/Selection_criteria_for_sales_of_FC_land_in_2011.pdf This document refers to selling some high quality and ancient woodlands to NGOs, public bodies and private woodland owners at market value. This does seem to run counter to the discussion paper and the option of giving such woodland to NGos etc.

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Posted by: Stephen Worrall, South Lincs, 27 January 2011

Remember the last government selling off gold at a ridiculously low price?? Selling off/leasing woodlands AT ANY PRICE would be equally absurd. The very thought of selling off yet another national asset and part of our heritage is an outrage and an action which will benefit only rich companies or individuals who see a profit in it! Will they be prepared to put money into maintaining habitats which encourage endangered species, be they plant or animal, Red Squirrel or Orchid? I think not. It is said that the woodlands cost each of us 30p per year to run. That’s about £18-20million a year. This is a drop in the ocean for such a valuable asset and a sum which, given a little ingenuity, could be covered by cost cuts within the forestry commission, increased revenue from woodfuel and, most importantly, tapping into lottery funding. The Heritage fund in particular says that it funds ‘…things….we value and want to pass on to future generations’ and it highlights ‘….Natural and designed landscapes and gardens…..Wildlife, including special habitats and species.’ I suspect that support for publicly owned woodlands would gain greater appreciation than many of the other questionable minority group ‘good causes’. The latest idea that commercial woodlands would be leased for a set time also seems a mind numbingly stupid idea. After all, what company is going to harvest a mature crop (planted partly at tax payers’ expense), bank the cash and then use some of it to manage land which in 40 odd years they may not be leasing!! OH, I KNOW WHO WILL!! It’s the foreign companies who have already been allowed to purchase a significant amount of our industries and then take the profits out of this country. They know a bargain when they see one! Wales and Scotland have already decided that there will be no sell off/leasing of their woodlands. It’s time to say what’s good for the Welsh and Scots is also good for us. WE MUST KEEP OUR WOODLANDS IN PUBLIC OWNERSHIP.

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Posted by: Brian Butson, Liphook, Hampshire, 27 January 2011

I was born and brought up in the Forest of Dean. I was a pupil at East dean Grammar school. I left the Forest many years ago. However, it is still very special to me. There is too much history to allow misguided politicians take knee jerk decisions which may have serious impacts for decades to come. I sense that your local Member of Parliament is going with the flow. The Forestry Commission appears to have been a good custodian over many decades. Therefore, why change something that works? The proposals being considered currently, make little sense. The Royal Forest of Dean needs to be protected for future generations to enjoy. I would like to add my voice to the protest.

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Posted by: George Harvey, Bristol, 27 January 2011

I have not been involved from the early stages but of the recent publicity, nobody seems to give a clue to the answer I seek. Who would be interested in forking out Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds for a forest which would give them no form of return or profit. I think nobody therefore their must be a hidden agenda whereby the forest will cost us all for the use of the areas. Or am I just naive?

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Posted by: sarah french, forest of dean, 27 January 2011

I think the idea of the yellows ribbons round the trees are great and i have put some up as well, But isnt there any more ways we can get people to take notice? like -- wristbands, a lapel badge, car stickers etc,etc?

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Posted by: Frank Williams, Coleford, Forest of Dean, 27 January 2011

We must be aware that although the Government may well do a "U turn" in selling off the Forest, we must consider the following Most of us consider in a general sense the Forest of Dean to include all woodland in both Private and Public ownership, South of Ross on Wye and between the Rivers Severn and Wye, Including woodland at Tidenham (Poors Allotments) and areas around Mailscot and High Meadow (between Berry Hill and the River Wye. Along with other woodalnd currently being leased by the Forestry such as Huntsham Hill and Flaxley. The suggestion that the publically owned bits of the Forest be put into "Trust" may well protect the Statutory Forest Of Dean (Recently black white and green marks placed at sides of roads to show when passing in and out of the Statutory Forest of Dean) but leaves woodland outside of this area at risk of being sold to private interests. If the Statutory Forest is protected from public sale and put into Trust the problem then will it have to absorb many more visitors displaced from woodland sold off where access has been restricted. Will this increased visitor pressure mean even greater danger to the Forest we know and hold dear. We still need to campaign for all signifcant blocks of Forestry owned and leased land remains in some form of public ownership in the area east of the River Wye west of the River Severn and south of a line from Ross to Gloucester The Statutory Forest is not enough

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Posted by: Roger Bradbury, Whitecroft, 27 January 2011

I fully support your campaign BUT The posters put up in some places in the Forest are, in places Dangerous. On bends I have to look our for road users, Deer, Bore, Sheep. Now I am asked to read posters. I can understand signs but, who is co-ordinating and did you seek approval from Gloucester Highways ? You have my support but you must check this out. Best wishes

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Posted by: dave, forest, 27 January 2011

we need to continue fight against government proposal . as heritage forest , the dean will be offered to charitable trust. this will not safeguard forest in the long term . If any trust fails in long term as gov states grants to them will diminish over time , no guarantee they will not then be sold off privately how can a charity generate money to manage forest charge tom access it? we must do all we can to keep Dean and all forests in public ownership

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Posted by: Tom Oglesby, Billingham Cleveland, 27 January 2011

How will the forests be protected for "The People". They will lose there freedom to walk and keep fit /healthy and show our children and grand children everything we have been able to enjoy. But more to the point how long will it be before the forests/woodlands are planted in "HOUSES" instead of re-planting trees? The people who will buy the forests will only make there money then "Cut!and Run"

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Posted by: john belcher, Joyford Hill, Christchurch, 26 January 2011

Went on a one-person mass trespass in Bircham wood on Sunday. Lovely walk in mixed woodland. It must be kept open to all for the future. The old burial path from Coleford runs along the topside of the wood down to the historic Cathedral of the Forest in Newland where the Forest Free Miner Brass and Jenkyn Wyrall, Forester of Fee repose and of course the Ostrich pub. Another pleasant walk. Try them both this coming Sunday and feel the satisfaction of doing something morally uplifting.

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Posted by: Dave Street, Lydney, 26 January 2011

I am most concerned at the possible sell off of the forest. However, there are many rumours & misleading statements being made on this forum which do not help the cause. Contrary to a recent posting on this forum the Forest of Dean is shown as Open Access Land on the Natural England web site http://www.openaccess.naturalengland.org.uk/wps/portal/oasys/maps/MapSearch (do not confuse the CROW act with Open Access agreements). I have been in touch with Natural England and the Forestry Commission have dedicated most of their freehold land in England. Open Access is conferred on the land not the owner so if it is sold those rights still apply. There is a danger if the new owners apply for planning permission for a business which allowed then to claim 'change of use'. Any such changes would probably be adjacent to roads so access points could be lost. Hopefully, our District Council would prevent such changes. Of course, Open Access only applies to people on foot so there could be a worry for cyclists & horse riders. The other concern would of course be the maintenance of the various tracks.

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Posted by: riona the fish and tree fighter, near forest row,sussex, 26 January 2011

come on,everyone!save our tress!they need our help,and let's go rescue them!i live in a.a.milne's hundred acre wood,and i want all those 100 acres to stay!

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 26 January 2011

Could anyone around the country/world who supports the Save Our Forests/HOOF campaign wear a yellow ribbon? Perhaps HOOF/Save Our Forests could sell the ribbons for a small donation to the campaign.

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Posted by: David and Morag Norman, Longhope, 26 January 2011

Like Felicity, we have just received our second reply from Mark Harper. It simply repeats the government mantra - “we have no plans to sell off the Forest” – together with the usual promise that when we get the White Paper we’ll all see that everything is going to be fine. He doesn’t address any of the points we raised, such as: explain why any change in the status or ownership of the public forest estate is necessary or justified – no answer; or, the present Public Bodies Bill would enable ministers, present or future, to implement massive structural and ownership change to a whole raft of public assets, without reference to parliament or the public – no answer. He seems not to understand that even if the present allegedly forest-loving Minister is absolutely saintly and would not harm a Forest of Dean fly (we wish!), we may be faced in the future with a determined forest-wrecking Minister who would be free under the present Public Bodies Bill clauses to brandish his chainsaw unchecked. We either have a very naïve MP or a very untrustworthy one – and we’d rather not find out the hard way which he is.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 25 January 2011

Just received another very general reply to my second letter to MArk Harper, with the usual DEFRA letter from Jim Paice which always makes my blood boil. MH has handwritten a note at the end as he remembers bumping into me a while back and it says "there are no plans to sell off the Forest of Dean." Incredible, I've never heard him say this without qualifying it - I can only think it's going to be given away. Or there'd be no need for all the consultation that they promise.

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Posted by: Sarah Hards, South Woodford, 25 January 2011

Just wanted to say keep up the good work - the Forest of Dean is incredibly important to me. But don't forget to make strong links with groups fighting for other forests too - if we focus too much on "exemptions" we might just move the problem to other forests....

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Posted by: Dom Wilkinson, Swindon (Parents live in Lydney), 24 January 2011

Has anyone thought of starting an official online petition to the prime ministers office at No.10? http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/ I just did a search on there but couldn't find a petition there.

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Posted by: Tim Jones, S Glos, 24 January 2011

The Forest of Dean is very special and it must be protected, but not by an exemption - the whole forest sell-off plan must be scrapped for all England.

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Posted by: Richard J Turner-Thomas, Wales, 24 January 2011

Save Our Forests petition is breaking through the 200'000 signature barrier today Over 50,000 signatures in one week A recent poll showed that a massive 84% of the public are against selling our public owned forests Take heart all of you the cavalry are on the way to rescue our cause in the shape of the British public Best Regards

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Posted by: caroline harmer, bream, 24 January 2011

have been looking at some of the yellow ribbon comments and I am surprised that some people feel it could harm wildlife - I'm not sure how as they all appear to be firmly fixed to the trees. There will be a far greater threat to wildlife if we don't win. I, I'm sure like all others who have 'ribboned', will be taking them down when the campaign is finished. To me, they are a brilliant everyday visual reminder of how strong we are, what we are trying to achieve - and what we could lose. Well done to whoever has done Speech House to Cinderford -it's stunning. Can I suggest a mass yellow ribbon action one weekend?

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Posted by: Jane, Oxford, 24 January 2011

We have lovely woods at Christmas Common near Stokenchurch... Deer, Red Kites, all kinds of birds... to sell this off would be a disgraceful.. the Government should not do this as private owners will then make us pay to use what is ALL OF OURS ANYWAY... our woods have lovely paths down the Ridgeway for Hiking.., children exploring the paths and woods.., KEEP IT FOR ALL TO USE...

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Posted by: jennifer, stratford upon avon, 24 January 2011

the forest should be kept for the people. i have daughter and grand children living near and they want it there for their future

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Posted by: Allan, York, 24 January 2011

The sad reality is we have an old style Conservative government still obsessed with privatisation, only this time they have the excuse that woodland needs to be sold because we need the money. Don't believe them - this Tory dogma. In the words of the High Street retailer's sales pitch, 'once it's gone, it's gone' we can't get them back. Forget the promise of protection, regulation, etc. that's not the issue. What remains of the forests belong to the nation and no fly-by-night government has the right to sell them off.

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Posted by: Dave Corby, Lincoln, 23 January 2011

The only reason this Lib Dem Con merchants want to sell off these forest is because the incoming owners can then charge the users for admission to the facilities ! Please stop them from selling them off.

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Posted by: Chris, Forest of Dean, 23 January 2011

This may seem a very basic question but I'm a basic kind of person: Can someone tell me how the Government can sell off the FOD when it is owned by the PUBLIC?

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Posted by: Peter Clark, North Surrey, 23 January 2011

My grand mother came from around Park End and Bream. Is there a petition I might sign against sell-off proposals?

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Posted by: Carol-lyn Gilling, Doncaster S Yorks, 23 January 2011

People over the centuries have lived for worked for and died for this land. It belongs to the people not to the Tory Lib Dem coalition and is not theirs to sell.If funds are needed to maintain the lands and forests ask the people. You must have a referendum to decide the way forward. No one body has the authority to sell off the English birthright!

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Posted by: Bob, North Wilts (ex FOD), 23 January 2011

Just thought I would copy this entry from the FC website "The United Nations has declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests. It has invited governments, organisations and individuals to do all they can to raise public awareness of the key role of forests and sustainable forest management in building a greener, more equitable and sustainable future. The Forestry Commission is pleased to play its part and will make a full contribution to the UK’s response. Our programme of educational, community and recreational events throughout the year will be used to highlight the Year of Forests and we are planning many more projects and events throughout 2011."

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 23 January 2011

Sunday Telegraph main headline today "SAVE OUR FORESTS". see on-line "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/countryside/8276327/Save-our-forests-say-celebrities-and-leading-figures.html" plus on what privatisaion holds "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/agriculture/forestry/8276046/Sale-of-Rigg-Wood-could-herald-forests-future.html!

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Posted by: Huw randall, North herefordshire, 23 January 2011

Carry on this campaign. It is vital that our woodlands, now developed for over 50 careful years are not squandered, to be pillaged for a short term financial gain. 1. look at Russias woodlands that were privatised 8-10 years ago, no control, result out of control peat fires. 2. BT, BG and Electricity generation were deifferent, with no long term environmental and social impact. The forests are a core part of the Uk landscape and welfare. keep up the good work, any help please let me know. Huw Randall Kingsland

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Posted by: Joe, Parkend, 22 January 2011

Nice article in Private Eye "Forest Chumps" http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=hp_sauce&issue=1280

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Posted by: Dr Christopher Skilbeck, Coventry, 22 January 2011

How on Earth can privatising forests give the public more control over them? I have never heard such nomsense. In any case, it is a dangerous slope, privatisation with certain conditions today, what tomorrow? The British Government has cried wolf too many times and they are absolutely not to be trusted to do the right thing for OUR forests - yes, get it, this land land belongs to all the British people! No way can we allow the privatisation of our forests, not now, not ever. It is a slippery slope and we must never cross the line, no matter what it takes.

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Posted by: Colin Neal, Littledean, 22 January 2011

See Geoffrey Lean's article on Public Bodies Bill in Daily Telegraph today (22nd). Online =http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthcomment/geoffrey-lean/8275145/Is-this-David-Camerons-new-role-model.html Time to get the letters going to highlight our issue with this insidious bill. Email "dtletters@telegraph.co.uk"

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 22 January 2011

Anyone who has been putting off writing to the lords - do so now! - they are so overloaded with work that we may have weeks still to get through to them - Lord X, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW, list of names here http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/lords/ Ask them to save OUR Forest of Dean by exempting it from the Public Bodies Bill!

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 19 January 2011

Different Greenman to the Berry Hill one! Printing out the Not for Sale sign in A4 size and putting it on the car window is a good idea - plus tie a yellow ribbon somewhere on the car - I've done both - it would be nice to see others though. Thank you HOOF for this website and this comments page and facebook - apart from writing letters, it's good to have somewhere to vent my anger.

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Posted by: Catherine Wainwright, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, 17 January 2011

I'm an ex-pat living in Yorkshire, I regularly visit family in the Forest and I can't tell you how upsetting it feels to be so far away and not be able to support you in body. However, I've emailed all local friends and family to urge them to email Caroline Spelman, I will proudly display my HOOF poster in my car, and I will also contact my local (Labour) MP for support.

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Posted by: Richard Turner-Thomas, Wales, 17 January 2011

Save our Forests petition is breaking through the 150,000 barrier this morning Well done to all of you and all your friends Now lets all make a fuss on the No 10 petition as well Best Regards

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Posted by: Piers, St. Briavels, 16 January 2011

I suggest that people should be printing out the "Forest Not for Sale" signs and putting them up in the rear window of the car. I've just done this in my car but don't think I've seen any others. A poster in the car has high visibility and will help to spread the message.

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Posted by: Christopher Howell, United Kingdom, 15 January 2011

I am surprised that HOOF has not entered a petition on the Number 10 website - if 100,000 people sign a petition then the petition becomes eligible for discussion in parliament. Send to Number10.gov.uk - there are currently NO petitions on their site, perhaps HOOF should be first

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Ruardean, 14 January 2011

Just to take on board what 'A Forester' has said, can everyone who has taken part in the yellow ribbon campaign check back regularly on their ribbons, and retie them if they have come off the trees? I'm sure you are anyway, but just to make sure. If anyone else comes across them on the ground, can they do the decent thing and retie them too?

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Posted by: Chris, Cheltenham, 13 January 2011

Unbelievable arrogance of this government. I just read on The Guardian website about the inhertiance tax implications of the sale. I'm in my mid 30's and have never really felt like marching for a cause before but I AM THERE on this one. Utter Purple Rage.

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Posted by: A Forester, Forest of Dean, 13 January 2011

A Forester did indeed pick up the ribbons. It would be decent for others to do the same rather than add to the litter in the Forest?

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Posted by: Jack, Coleford, 12 January 2011

Can I suggest that "A Forester", (see earlier post 11th Jan), if he really has the Forest at heart, picks up any yellow ribbons that may have come off the trees and ties them back instead of moaning about it. The people who are doing their best to save our Forest from destruction have enough on their plate and could use a little help.

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 12 January 2011

In answer to Felicity's question, one more thing that can be done (which is probably being done already) is to publicise the plight of the Forest of Dean (and all the Forests in England) as far and wide as possible. I am going to contact all the people I know in Australia and ask them to put links on Australian websites. It would add to the impact if the Governemnt was being bombarded with comments from all over the world. We will be doing a Save Our Forests window display in the Wholefoood Shop in Frome. Get your friends all over the country and the rest of the world to sign up to the camapaign.

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Posted by: Dan Cook, Bristol and the Ruspidge, 12 January 2011

Mark Harper's Party has a tree as its symbol, which according to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/5348630.stm represents "strength, endurance, renewal and growth". If Mark's single hastily-scribbled tree logo really represents all that, then he should be very worried; because we've got twenty million trees on our side! Oak, Beech, Ash, Larch will all endure and so will we.

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Posted by: Joe, Parkend, 12 January 2011

It is clear any private owner would raise money from our leisure activities - does this mean charging for access to paths or cycle tracks? Jim Paice said "We think, and this is one of our objectives in disposal, that there are ways of improving commercial returns and generating more returns from leisure and other, currently unprofitable, activities." - see HOOF news page on Hansard 24 Nov PS Here is a nice photo of Jim, our Minister for Agriculture, who just happens to be cutting a yellow ribbon! :-) http://www.jamespaicemp.com/type3picture.asp?ref=8&photo=51&id=8

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Posted by: A Forester, Forest of Dean, 11 January 2011

PLEASE can someone monitor the yellow ribbons. Many are no longer on trees and are littering the Forest. It looks a mess. If outsiders see this they will think we do not care for the Forest. Please can this be addressed ASAP.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 11 January 2011

So, I've written to 160 cross-bencher Lords,Mark Harper a few times (latest one begging him to listen to his constituents), Caroline Spelman, Jim Paice, the National Trust (seem to be happy to be involved with small communities wanting to preserve something, I hoped they'd say they wanted nothing to do with this total nonsense). Been to rally, will go to the Cycle Rally (did I hear something about Cannop ponds and TV cameras this weekend?) but what else can I do? Thought maybe of preparing a list of key bullet points to then be sent to all the contacts I have outside the Forest to persuade them to write a letter to their MP saying how unhappy they are with this.... any more thoughts from HOOF people?

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 11 January 2011

Yellow ribbon - if anyone wants a reel of this, I have four available. I've tied ribbons in several places, but running out of inspiration and time, so if anyone wants one of these please email me on felicity.greenman@virgin.net It's really satisfying going around tying them along popular routes and then driving past later. Obviously, when we win, we need to be prepared to go round and cut them off - but I really don't feel that will be a problem!

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Posted by: Lawrence de Leeuw, Hampshire, but FoD born and bred, 11 January 2011

The coalition government will succeed in doing what the spanish armada failed to achieve over 423 years ago! One of their explicit orders was to cut down the forest of dean as the forest was the source of wood for ship-building. The forest is part of British heritage and not to be sold off on the whim of some toff over congnacs after dinner. disgraceful behaviour from our government.

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Forest of Dean, 9 January 2011

http://www.theforester.co.uk/saveourforest.cfm - this is the online petition

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 9 January 2011

Is it possible for there to be a version of the HOOF petition that people could sign via the internet?

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Posted by: green man, Berry 'ill, 9 January 2011

Apparently Terry Hale is a new convert to the cause and Peter Amos is indicating he is. Hmmm...I wonder why. It will be a real coup if those condescending Harper familiars, County Councillors Messrs McMillan, Quayle and Thornton, suddenly backed HOOF wouldn't it. Another impending enemy is the spread of the insidious 'Sudden Oak Death' across the country. This disease not only kills oak trees, but many other tree species as well. Only the Forestry Commission have the staff numbers and expertise to combat this nationally. If the ConDems abolish the FC, WE REALLY WILL BE IN THE PROVERBIAL SH.TE. I wonder if Mr Harper is even aware of this threat.

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Posted by: Captain Jenkins, Chepstow, 9 January 2011

There was an MP name of Harper, Whose constituents forced him to scarper, Through backing a Bill, he'd made them ill-willed, How he wished, that their wits; were not sharper!...

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Posted by: Richard Turner-Thomas, Wales, 8 January 2011

Please be advised I have managed to get the plight of Forest Of Dean brought to the attention of Cwmbran Town Council with Torfaen Borough Council representation for the environmental meeting on Mon 10th Jan 2011 I am hopeful they will support your cause Kind Regards Richard

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Posted by: nick tapps, poole, 7 January 2011

When are we goin to wake up and realise that capitalism is steadily turning all resources into commoditys? When R we goin 2 stand up togeter and kick capitalism in the dustbin. Wake up & stand up! Reclaim the planet! Support strike 2012 like we support you

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Posted by: David Elliott, Buckinghamshire, 7 January 2011

I was brought up in the Forest in the 1950/60's, and lived in Mitcheldean and then Cinderford- where I went to the now defunct East Dean Grammar School. I've just retired as a University Professor, having focussed on energy and environmental issues. I was shocked to hear of the plans to sell off the Forest, but delighted to see the strong opposition. Count me in. This has to be stopped.

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Posted by: John French, The Forest of Dean, 7 January 2011

In a letter to the Guardian, Jim Paice, Minister for state, tries to persuade us that none of the forests that are to be disposed of under the Public Bodies bill will lose their access rights. However, here in the Forest of Dean, we have virtually no access rights under the 2000 “right to roam” bill – only ancient permissions granted by the Forestry Commission. Should the land be taken from the control of the Forestry Commission and the state there is no doubt we will lose our access to this unique and historic forest where many thousands live and work. Paice says we should wait for the consultation to be published, but omits to say there has been no consultation! Our MP Mark Harper has been conspicuous by his absence for some time. Although invited, he was not at a packed public meeting held on December 10th nor at the rally and meeting attended by over 3,000 people on January 3rd. He had an excellent opportunity to put his case alongside Jonathon Porrit, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon and many others, and to listen to ours. Apparently he had “other engagements”. The other thing that Paice conveniently forgets to mention is that this so called consultation that is to be published is in fact no such thing – it is a white paper, which is basically government policy. What happened to the green paper that normally precedes a white paper? Why is the government - and our MP in particular - so scared of meeting us in open debate? All he will say is that he will visit the Forest and tell us what the white paper contains when it is published. Treating us Foresters in this patronising and high handed way is a huge mistake, as governments have discovered to their cost for the last 500 years. It is one of the reasons Hands off our Forest has already grown to be a huge movement of people from all walks of life and of all ages and political persuasions.

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Posted by: David Rushworth, West Yorks, 6 January 2011

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it". Why change a system that is working. I am dubious about reassurances from any government in this country, Cadbury's was supposed to be protected from a foreign cut up and look what happened there.

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Posted by: Robin Warren, Lydney, 6 January 2011

What a grand turnout on Monday, surely this must do the trick! One concern I have (along with many other people I know) is what future have the other Forestry Commission holdings in the Forest of Dean Constituency? These include the dafodil woods in Dymock (mentioned by Jan Royall in her speech), the Lydney Woods on my doorstep and, in the southern part of our "patch", Tidenham Chase and the Lower Wye Valley woodlands, along with many other smaller areas. These are important for both recreation and conservation, for local residents and visitors alike.

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Posted by: Pebbles P, Berry Hill, 5 January 2011

I really enjoyed the rally and brought my two year old daughter who so enjoys frolicking in OUR GREAT Forest. I have written to Mark Harper tonight but am unsure what else I can do to help stop what seems to be selling the family silver to pay off a short term overdraft. We won't be able to get it back once it goes- ever.

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Posted by: the black hand gang, harrow hill, 5 January 2011

A great rally on Monday. Funny seeing he voted against the proposal at the council meeting that Councillor Glastonbury was marching along with several other Tory and Independent councillors from Lydney was marching close to me on Monday. A sinner repenting or there for another reason?

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Posted by: The Green Man, Berry Hill, 5 January 2011

Councillors who voted against the final motion on Dec. 8th were Venk Shenoi, Terry Hale, Terry Glastonbury, Dennis Riley, Martin Quaile, Richard Long. Those who abstaines were Carol Allaway Martin, Grace Bensted, Georgina Bensted. Those who failed to vote were Len Lawton, Patrick Molyneux, Peter Amos, Diana Edwards, Brian Robinson. Consider these names when you come to vote in the upcoming local elections in May. Do they deserve to continue to represent us on the Council. People of the Forest "Know thine enemy".

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Posted by: Spirit of Warren James!!, Forest of Dreams, 5 January 2011

Wonderful day of peoples solidarity at Speech House. 3000 plus on a cold snowy day, made it very memorable. HOOF are great organisers and Foresters and friends are magic and always have been. Warren is smiling. Thousands of people saying NO to frenzied right wing ideology gets my vote! Our struggle in the Forest reflects many other struggles across the world today. Where rural communities are being decimated by governments and big business pushing their agenda of profit and greed. Almost 200 hundred years ago the Foresters rose up against the elected government and their legacy is still with us today. We are not a party political movement. What we are is a great unstoppable political movement fighting to save our community! Be the Change that you want to see in the world!!

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Posted by: Rebecca Rose, Dymock, 5 January 2011

I have to admit that I did not know about the rally so did not attend. I have not long returned to working in the Forest since having a baby and have aquainted myself with the information about the proposed sell off and I have to say that I am furious and willing to do what I can to support the campaign. The Forest is such a special place to me and my family and my family heritage; I can't bear the idea of it no longer being free and open for all of us to enjoy.

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Posted by: James Price, England, 4 January 2011

I completely support this campaign. Selling off our forests is a disgrace.

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 4 January 2011

Have a look at www.stillwildstillthreatened.org. This is a group fighting to protect ancient forests in Tasmania.

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Posted by: Richard Turner-Thomas, Wales, 4 January 2011

I disagree with the estimated 3,000 crowd I would put the figure nearer 5,000 When the crowd file was emerging many many more people were coming from all directions It was a wonderful turn out in freezing snowing conditions I feel the cold very much and did not stay for the effigy burning (sorry folks )many others did the same but they were THERE Never mind at least I got there from Wales to voice my support MP's,Assembly Members , councillors etc have also been contacted for support today Kind Regards and good luck to your cause

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Posted by: Dave Kennedy, Coleford, 4 January 2011

Brilliant Felicity! I'll be writing letters too. I've put a list of the crossbench peers here: http://www.forestferns.net/docs/Crossbench_peers.htm It includes the address of the House of Lords and links to peer's info and email addresses.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, Coalway, 4 January 2011

Re writing to members of the House of Lords - which really needs to be done by January 11th or soon after as that's when the amendments are being discussed. If you go the House of Lords site, you can see which peers are cross-benchers. Jan Royall said she had the labour ones under control - and presume we'd be banging our heads against a brick wall with Torys - so concentrate onthe cross benchers. That still leaves an awful lot of them -I left out the obviously Scottish ones. I think Rich Daniels may have a list he could forward - see contacts on this website. Apparently a letter works better than an email - so I've embarked on the enormous task of writing to all 160 of them! I'm sure an email would be better than nothing - it's cost the earth in stamps and window envelopes - but anything is worth it to try and stop this forest being sold to anyone at all - not the community (not a serious proposal even if we were loaded enough to buy it, we couldn't afford to run it or have the knowledge or time and then it would all fall into disrepair - and have to sold!) and not the NT as they don't have the money and anyway it's OURS!

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Posted by: Dave Kennedy, Coleford, 4 January 2011

How can we help Baroness Royall get the Public Bodies Bill amended? Could someone identify all the peers we need to influence and list their names and email addresses?

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Posted by: Maggie Russell, Mill End Near Coleford, 4 January 2011

We were very impressed with the speakers yesterday and the amout of people who have turned up. I will be copying everyone I know with you letter to The Commons, the more people the merrier. Thank you again for a well organised event. Good Luck

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Posted by: Doreen Fisher, Cinderford, 4 January 2011

I found the comment about an apolitical group such as National Trust to run the forest worrying. The N T has a bad record for its treatment of tenants and if over the years you have visited certain Trust properties you will have noticed that the access to outside space has decreased. Keep the forest free!

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Ruardean, 4 January 2011

Jennifer - we would need millions to buy our Forest and besides it's already ours so we would be conning ourselves. What you can do to help right now: write a letter to a Lord (cross-bencher, Liberal or Tory), requesting them to vote for an exemption for the Forest of Dean in the Public Bodies Bill on January 18, and send a copy to Baroness Jan Royall

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Posted by: Nigel Clark, Southampton, 3 January 2011

Is it possible to sigh up to be kept informed of the campaign ? I am sure there are many like me, who would like to do something to help even though we dont live in the area. Can you tell use what we can do to support you ?

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Posted by: Jennifer, Somerset, 3 January 2011

Why not use your campaign to raise money to buy the forest?

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Posted by: Ems, london, 3 January 2011

Are there any kids involved in teh campaign? They should contact news outlets for children such as Newsround, First News(info.firstnews.co.uk) and headliners (www.headliners.org) to get their stories printed/heard...

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 3 January 2011

Great turn out - we had some too elderly or immobile to support from outside their homes and some war veterans with missing limbs who managed the march but had to leave early - it was snowing and very cold - but we still got thousands! well done everyone! and well done Owen!

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Posted by: sarah french, forest of dean, 3 January 2011

I was at the rally today, it was great to see so many people there, but when you think how many live and work in the forest, there should have been a lot more.

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Posted by: Angi Powell, Our Amazing Forest of Dean, 3 January 2011

What an amazing protest.So many colourful vibrant people.Hey Mr Harper you will never pave our paradise....Peace n Tree hugs to you all. Angi x

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Ruardean, 3 January 2011

Maurice Bent was at the rally today and he has picked up 'not for sale' and 'HOOF' signs from The Forester office in past weeks. He is not chief verderer - that is Bob Jenkins, he is the reason the verderers cannot clarify their position. Ray Wright, the other verderer, is against the sell-off too, but until Bob Jenkins gets off the fence, Maurice and Ray cannot speak for the verderers.

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Posted by: Felicity Greenman, United Kingdom, 3 January 2011

Well done to all the HOOF people who organised such an excellent, inspiring and positive (and peaceful) rally today - just so good to see how many people feel strongly enough to brave the bitterly cold weather today - just think how many more supporters there are who couldn't make it today. On the subject of yellow ribbons, I am responsible for quite a few and fully intend to remove every last one as soon as we win this fight - it will be such a pleasurable task compared with the angry feeling I have when putting them up! They are all very tightly attached to the trees and I really can't see any wildlife being damaged by them.

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Posted by: Dido Walker, Tunbridge Wells, 3 January 2011

I think i would trust an apolitical non profit making organization such as the national Trust to care for the legacy of Britains forests As to jobbing politicians with corporate agendas steering the helm on this one -I would say N-O

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Posted by: Stella Berg, Ross, 3 January 2011

What is Maurice Bent doing about this? Write to him PERSONALLY - ie through his letterbox - to express your wishes: he is the Head Verderer and he should be leading the battle. Why has he not been doing it? Make his responsibilities clearer to him

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Posted by: Catherine Taylor, Cheltenham, 2 January 2011

My late Father was a Forester; his ashes are under a certain tree, somewhere where the bluebells grow. He was utterly and passionately in love with the Forest and knew and walked every inch of it and drew and painted it in all of its moods. My Cinderford Grandfather was a master stonemason, responsible for some of the bridges and pillboxes along the Severn. My great grandfather was a miner, lived in a cottage on Ruardean Hill. Will I join the fight, Dad's two best friends? Oh yes.

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Posted by: Des Trehearne, gloucester, 2 January 2011

As a past member of the Forestry Commission Regional Advisory Council I fully support the campaign against the sale of the Forestry Commission and the sale of the Forest of Dean which is the largest Hardwood forest in the UK

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Posted by: Richard J Turner-Thomas, Cwmbran Wales, 1 January 2011

I was Independant Parliament Candidate for Torfaen at the previous 2 elections I wish to voice my total support for HOOF It is a disgraceful proposal to suggest selling off our National Forests We have brave servicemen dying overseas to keep our country free and these MP's want to sell it from under our feet Lobby your MP's where ever you live Good Luck to your cause Richard J Turner-Thomas

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Posted by: Karl Greenfield, Mile End, 1 January 2011

To Mark Harper Mark - as you know, through letters and press correspondence you have received and read - many HOOF supporters WERE NOT opponents of you, your party or the coalition government - you have sought to make us so through your attack on the forest. We may support many other government policies but will never vote for you again. The forest is more important to us than the choice of a political party to vote for - I suspect that sadly you and your ilk do not, and cannot, understand this. You and the forestry minister Jim Paice, DO intend to damage the forest - Jim has stated himself in his documented discussions with the house of lords, over the Public Bodies Bill, currently trying to slither under the radar; that his plans INCLUDE the potential sale of ALL of the UK forestry estate. This IS intent to damage the forest of dean, which has been managed as ONE entity, by the SAME organisation, the forestry commission; for nearly 100 years. You have not discussed your plans beforehand - since the foresters would never have voted for this - instead this bill HAS BEEN SUBMITTED, that will allow ministers to sell the forest WITHOUT ANY CONSULTATION with us - this is ALREADY approaching the 3rd reading in the house of lords. "Trust me and wait for the white paper" you say, hoping that we do not understand that a white paper is a statement of policy - of your DECISION of how to proceed. You hide in silence and wait in hope that the bill will become law; at which point you can produce your white paper, and we will have no power other than direct action to stand up for the forest. Direct action likely to criminalize previously law-abiding foresters, leaving them homeless, imprisoned or worse, dragging the history of centuries of forester struggle into the 21st century. We all hope that we can convince the lords to exempt the forest of dean from the bill so that we can avoid this escalation. Why do you think that you know better than HOOF's supporters?, some of whom are venerable experts in UK forestry having dedicated their successful, professional working lives to the subject; Bart Venner MBE, Lord Clark of Windermere (ex-chair of the forestry commission) spring to my uneducated mind but there are many many more. Very few of us are naive enough to believe that the sale will be directly to the developer, the miner, the hotelier; (like good forestry planning) this WILL COME in the fullness of time if we are defeated. The prophetical 19th century forest poem on forester struggle warns us that you will "suck out the egg if you once prick the shell". Your bill seeks to "prick the shell". We will fight the "pricks".

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Posted by: Mandy Griffiths, Dilton Marsh, 30 December 2010

The yellow ribbon is a wonderful idea. Purple ribbon is used by the animal rights movement to reperesent compassion and is tied to fences outside vivisection laboratories and factory farms. I hope to see yellow ribbon all over the Forest. Will you have it for sale at the rally?

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Posted by: Sarah, Lydney, 29 December 2010

What the government is planning has left me feeling angry, betrayed and saddened, but also passionate in fighting this plan. The Forest of Dean is not for sale; it belongs to the people. Any goverment in power should be guardians of the forest and not it's destroyers!!

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Posted by: Rick Garlak, Manchester, 29 December 2010

Words fail me... this is a disgrace!!!

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Posted by: Mark Steven Mathews, Bream, 29 December 2010

I can't tell you how much this is playing on my mind,as someone who uses the forest every day of my life, I just can't imagine being without it. What does the potential sell off mean??? Does it mean in time this will no longer be green land that can be enjoyed by all who choose? Does it mean we will become a city of concrete and fumes an all the S**t I hate about city life. I was born and bread here, sure I have traveled like many others, and it all comes back to here, here is where I live, we live, you live. It is a world all of it's own, lets keep it that way. I could babble on about how wonderful and stunning the place is, but you and I already know that. Let's all keep it the way it is.

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Posted by: Averil Kear, Oldroft, 28 December 2010

In answer to concerns about the H.O.O.F. signs around the Forest and the yellow ribbons tied round the trees. These were placed to alert local inhabitants and visitors of the current situation. H.O.O.F.guarantee that these will be immediately removed as soon as we all win the fight to keep OUR Forest of Dean publicly owned and publicly run by the Forestry Commission.

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Posted by: graham elsmore, edge-end, coleford, glos., 27 December 2010

It infuriates me deeply how the"big brother" tactics of the government, trying to sell off our precious forest behind our backs,is some-what naive of them., Expecting "born and bred" forresters like myself,to "lie down", and allow the proposed sale of the forest to go ahead without any consultation or fight,will be to their detriment. They dont know how a forrester can dig their heels in and fight for what they believe in.[may i remind you of the proposed closure of the dilke hospital].Well Mr Harper,you were voted in by the public of this area,supposedly taking our views and concerns to number 10, so i suggest you get your backside into gear,and carry out the wishes of your constituents,or step down from your elected position before its to late and let us be represented by some-one in our corner who has the passion and the welfare of the forrest of dean at heart, as i do, has does many more

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Posted by: John French, Forest of Dean, 26 December 2010

Not sure where the previous post is coming from but wouldn't a better question to pose be "Should open-cast mining companies, property developers, Center Parcs and short term-profit logging companies own the forests of England?" Because that is the reality, what ever "safeguards" are in the act, if the state does not.

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Posted by: Gabriel Hemery, England, 26 December 2010

It will be interesting to see how much support you muster through the rally. You may want to take a look at the first draft of the public consultation, due at the end of January, that I have sourced and made available on my weblog: http://www.GabrielHemery.com. I am also conducting a poll asking a straightforward question: should the State own forests in England?

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Posted by: Paul Smith, Manchester, 24 December 2010

How can the government sell something that belongs to the public of Britain. There must be some legal position.

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Posted by: Harry Whitehead, Eltham London, 23 December 2010

As someone who was a supporter of the stopping of the Third London Airport building attempts on the North Kent marshes I know that if you can generate enought public interest then things can be achieved.The Forest of Dean is far better known than the north Kent marshes,indeed most people were unaware of it and had never visited.However the few local farmers,residents,birdwatchers and wildfowlers who love the wildness and solitude of the area won.With enought public support you can achieve all sorts of things,you may not be able to stop the sale but you may be able to excert pressure on buyers to consider your views and work with you to keep much of the areas character safe.

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Posted by: Mr. M.A.LAMB, LITTLEDEAN, 23 December 2010

It is obvious that any sell off any part of the forest of dean is NOT going to be public interest & MUST be stopped .Any buyer is only going to purchase [ANY OUTFITT NO MATTER WHO IT IS ] is only inerested in how to make money from it , dont forget these type of people are very devious and crafty , this sale is NOT on .dont forget we are suffering now from devious bankers that feed us with loads of CLAPTREPP that we can never make sense of .THIS SALE MUST NOT HAPPEN.

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Posted by: ian wright, bristol, 17 December 2010

I think the issue of protecting our wildlife is fundamental to this campaign. In recent years the Forestry Commission have introduced some excellent woodland management and conservations projects resulting in eco systems which encourage a complex range of wild life throughout the Forest from insects and birds to wild boar. Private owners are unlikely to have this expertise. In particular, privatisation of our Forest could result in clear felling of timber, open cast mining and the leasing of land to the wealthy to shoot our wildlife resulting in the destruction of habitats and resulting loss of wildlife. I suggest anyone putting up yellow ribbons take responsibility for taking them down when we win this campaign.

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Posted by: T Keddle, whitecroft, 17 December 2010

Whoever came up with the daft idea of tying ribbons around tree's is obviously "NOT" thinking about the wildlife. Seeing animals in distress whilst tangled in, or chocking on things is very distressing for anyone watching, let alone the animal in question. It is also littering. So if you realy love the forest please go and remove your ribbons and put a sighn up instead (don't forget to remove that too unless it's on your land). I find it quite disgusting that this is being done by people who "claim" to love the forest.

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Posted by: Bethany Billington, Deb Billington, Dom , Lydbrook, 15 December 2010

Once this forest land is gone it can never be replaced! The option for locals to buy is not accessible to all only to a few 'UNITY IS STRENGHT' Stand together and appose

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Posted by: Bruce Hogan, Lydbrook, 13 December 2010

Any doubt about how Foresters might feel about the threat to their beloved forest posed by the Public Bodies Bill was answered at the packed public meeting at the Miners’ Welfare Hall on Friday. We don’t want it sold. We think that talk of a community buy out is, “pie in the sky”, and overwhelmingly we approve of the way the Forestry Commission manages our woodlands and we want that to continue. Coalition politicians may listen to the 68.8% of the Forest of Dean electorate who voted either Conservative or Lib Dem in the recent general election. If you did vote for parties of the Coalition, please write to Mark Harper or Nick Clegg and tell them that this is an issue of such importance to you that it will change your voting pattern for a lifetime. In this regard, there were three people at Friday’s meeting that could make a difference. Heather Dalziel, Lib Dem district councillor for Littledean and Ruspidge spoke eloquently against the closure of Cinderford library. Will she undertake to write to every Lib Dem MP and peer asking them to back Baroness Jan Royall’s amendment to the Public Bodies Bill to exempt the Forest of Dean from any sale? Maurice Bent, recently elected Verderer and friend and confident of Mark Harper MP must come off the fence. He was widely applauded, and deservedly so, for his role as chief cheerleader in the Save Our Services campaign. Mark Harper nominated him for the position of Verderer and Tories by the coach-load packed the council chamber in Shire Hall to vote for him. Will he tell his friend Mark Harper that he is wrong and completely out of touch with the will of his electorate? Finally, Brian Robinson, County Councillor for Brooksdean, District Councillor for Mitcheldean and Drybrook and cabinet member on the Forest of Dean District Council, has voted with the Conservative line throughout, but I suspect that he is uneasy with their position. Will he publicly declare his opposition to the sale of the Forest of Dean and urge his colleagues to change tack?

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Posted by: Norman Kear, USA, 12 December 2010

I first visited the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire in 1963. In subsequent visits over the years I came to love and appreciate the region as I established closer bonds with our family. The provisions of the Public Bodies Bill are in line with current efforts gaining momentum in the U.K., the U.S.A. and elsewhere aimed at reducing government and decentralization of long-established government activities. Cloaked in the trappings of increased local involvement and "reform" the provisions of the Bill will inevitably result in exploitation of the resources involved. At best, the Public Bodies Bill has been motivated by well-intentioned beliefs, however superficial. At worst, the Bill is the product of scarcely concealed cynical political opportunism. Whatever the true intent, it is a fundamentally bad idea. By replacing the focused management of the Forestry Commission with a hodge-podge of "civil society organizations, businesses, local authorities and individuals," accountability - the most basic element of management - will become diluted, cross-purposed and ineffective. Moreover, the damage done will be irrevocable. With regard to the Forest Commission, I am unaware of problems or criticism generating a need for the changes envisioned by the Public Bodies Bill. At stake is not only the Forest of Dean but that of all of the forests in the United Kingdom. They play a primary role in the very fabric of the nation and should continue to be preserved and managed as the symbolic national entities they are. Norman R. Kear , California USA

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Posted by: Bob Freshwater, Yorkley, 11 December 2010

Mark Harper is conspicuous by his absence. I notice that he is on the political and constitutional commite, so he must have seen the Bill and was possibly invloved in introducing it. Rumour also has it that he is trying to get a front bench position and is to be given a safe seat? If this is so - then he has sold out the people of the Dean and in particular those who voted for him. Maybe Mark can advise on the above and clarify the position. Will he be standing for the Forest of Dean at the next election?

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Posted by: spirit of warren james, the wood, 10 December 2010

A little bit of extra pressure on tory councillors with a consience made all the difference, well done terry hale , welcome home

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Posted by: Andrew Long, Mitcheldean, 10 December 2010

I have always been proudly supportive of both the Conservative Party and the Forest of Dean. I now find that my loyalties are being divided, and on balance, I would fight for the Forest to remain free. I fail to see how we can be asked to "bid" for the right to buy the envvironment around us. Should we expect to see signs saying that this footpath is sponsored by Sports Direct or The Local Community. I am saddened that our own MP whom I have supported and been impressed by is backing this proposal. We must not allow this to happen under any circumstances.

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Posted by: Peter Dunford, Pillowell, 9 December 2010

What a great web site! I beleive that NOW is the time for unity and action. We cannot this allow this uncaring government to exploit our forests. Short-termism seems to be the rule of the day. We should never forget the consequenses of the ENCLOSURES ACT!!!

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Posted by: Hilary, Ledbury, 9 December 2010

Why aren't you on Twitter? It can achieve more results faster than Facebook

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Posted by: Beverley Scott, Canberra, 9 December 2010

I and a friend had the great pleasure of getting lost in The Forest of Dean back in '98 during a holiday from Australia, and, I have to say, it has stuck in my mind as an extraordinary place, unlike anything else we saw or stumbled upon during the couple of months that we toured around the U.K. To destroy this piece of nature in a country where something unique and special like this would be a travesty. Tourism is a big percentage of everyone's GDP nowadays, so, even if nothing else, surely this can be a good point of agument for it's preservation? I wish you good luck in your endeavours, and hope to enjoy your forest again one day soon............. :O)

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Posted by: Cheryl Mayo, Brains Green, 8 December 2010

Having written to Mr Harper with my concerns regarding the potential sell off of any of the UK forests, I received the usual assurances about "preserving the public benefits of woods and forests" and "public rights of ways and access will be unaffected" etc. However, as we are all aware the Forest of Dean is possibly unique amongst our forests with Foresters enjoying ancient privileges and traditions and the wider public gaining benefits through these, for example with rights to roam: these privileges and traditions are not, however, individually protected by legal rights. They are observed by the Forestry Commission which is possible because the Commission is a public body and essentially manages the Forest on our behalf. Therefore I was very interested to read a letter in the Forest and Wye Valley Review from Alan Robertson quoting extensively parts of the 1981 debate regarding the Forest of Dean and the implications of the then proposed Forestry Bill. At that time it was recognised that any sale of the Forest into private hands would almost necessarily mean an end to the traditions and privileges of the Forest simply because of the legal difficulties involved in ensuring this. We need to ask Mr Harper exactly HOW the current situation regarding the Forest would be maintained and assured for future generations if the way is made open for sales of forestry land to go ahead. Telling us that everything will be fine because the Minister has written a letter saying so, is naive to an extreme and definitely no substitute for embedding such assurances into legislation. Even if this Government has good intentions, what about the next lot?? I suspect Mr Harper hasn't any idea how this would work in practice but is simply towing the Government line re the Big Society and hoping we won't notice. Not very flattering. Yes, let's tie yellow ribbons around the trees, put up our Not for Sale signs and crowd public meetings - we need to show Mr Harper and his colleagues that their "Big Society" philosophies simply do not work in this context.

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Posted by: Sally Lomax, Forest of Dean, 7 December 2010

We've started a consciousness raising campaign by tying yellow ribbons round trees in the Forest. I bought 100yds of 2" wide,yellow florist ribbon and have tied some round trees where they can be seen. A photographer from The Review saw them and there will be a small article and photo in tonight's paper. Anyone can do this. The Forest belongs to us all. So come along and befriend a tree by tying your piece of ribbon round oak, ash, beech or any other tree. Together we can stop the sell off.

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Posted by: Owen Adams, Cinderford/Ruardean, 7 December 2010

I agree, this is a campaign that can and will be won... history has proved that Foresters will never give up our rights to our Forest (by Foresters I don't necessarily mean someone who was born or bred here, but anyone who loves the Forest of Dean). As for those who say 'wait and see', that would be shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. If there is no threat of sell-off, our MP and his Government cronies would surely have confirmed that by now. Their silence on this issue is ominous, and their refusal to lay their cards on the table distinctly anti-democratic. We have to keep the pressure on!

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Posted by: Barbara French, Brockweir, 6 December 2010

This is a campaign we really CAN win. On our side there are some who are very knowledgable about the political situation, and how to lobby, others who feel passionately and are willing to put in hours of non violent direct action. And RIGHT is on our side. This Government is already cracking on some resolutions. I feel very optimistic!!

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