Sunday, 24 January 2010

Pathways to the core truth

This week, it was reported in the press and on TV - but perhaps most notoriously in the Daily Record - that Roseanna Cunningham had been forced, through letters from MI5 and Westminster, to do a u-turn and not include two paths close to Balmoral in the Cairngorms National Park Core Paths Plan. There were calls for her resignation, and all manner of righteous indignation.
The truth of the matter, as reported in a public meeting of the board of the National Park on Friday, is that the park board had decided, before submitting their recommendations, that these two paths should not, in fact, be included. The board had recognised representations made by Balmoral Estate that the proximity of parts of these paths posed a security issue, and that, even though locally they were used by custom and practice, their publication as core paths would not be helpful.
In the course of statutory consultation, there were a number of unresolved objections which meant that a public inquiry would be needed, one of which was an objection that these paths should, after all, be included. The reporter who conducted the inquiry decided that he was not persuaded of the park board's view and recommended their reinstatement as core paths. The minister in fact said she was 'minded to accept' the reporter's recommendations, but nevertheless felt she needed a view on the security issue from the appropriate sources in London, and wrote accordingly.
The advice she received was clear and unequivocal that it was indeed considered that a security threat would be posed, so in the end, the Minister directed that the board of the Park should formally adopt their plan, as they had proposed, without these two paths. The media only reported the leaked letters from London - none of the rest of the facts.
Perhaps, one might think, journalists were simply being lazy and not bothering to discover the full context - but that would be a charitable view that is extreme in it's gullibility. These are 'professional' journos, interested only in a story; 'Minister considers all available advice and accepts park core paths plan' is not a story; and it doesn't give them any opportunity at all for their avowed and oft-evidenced propensity toward Nat-bashing. They were not lazy - they set out deliberately once again to deceive and to mislead. Plus ca change......

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