Minorities ‘don’t feel welcome in countryside’: Watchdog calls on ramblers to make people feel more welcome during green belt visits
- Natural England boss urges country people to be more friendly to minorities
- Marian Spain says the new Countryside Code needs to reflect all types of people
- Handbook calls on people to say hello to make non-white people feel welcolmed
Ethnic minorities don’t think they’ll get a warm welcome visiting the countryside, the Government’s environment watchdog chief said yesterday.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, urged country people to be more friendly to people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds following an update to the 70-year-old countryside code.
The visitors’ handbook, re-launched this week, encourages country folk and visitors to ‘say hello’ and ‘be nice’ to make non-white people feel more welcome.
Ethnic minorities don’t think they’ll get a warm welcome visiting the countryside, the Government’s environment watchdog chief said yesterday
Mrs Spain told the Mail: ‘It isn’t just about hikers and ramblers any more. We were conscious the code needed to reflect different sorts of people.
‘A colleague of mine says that when she goes to the countryside there aren’t many people who look like her, and she always worries about what if she isn’t welcome.’
Other code updates include advice on sticking to footpaths to avoid destroying crops, keeping dogs on a lead when they are around livestock and a warning that barbecues can be a fire risk.
Mrs Spain added: ‘We want to get that balance of welcoming people and helping make sure they enjoy their visit whether to a town park or to the countryside, but also that they don’t inadvertently cause any problems.’
The visitors’ handbook, re-launched this week, encourages country folk and visitors to ‘say hello’ and ‘be nice’ to make non-white people feel more welcome
‘That “nice message” is about respecting other people and welcoming people,’ she said.
‘It’s accepting that there may be people there who aren’t like you.’
She added: ‘Ten years ago, you didn’t bag your dog poo, it was left on pavements and on paths.
‘And what we’ve seen now is people don’t realise if they don’t take it home, somebody else has got to clear it up.
‘It is about keeping the countryside tidy, it’s a version of not leaving a trace, but it’s one that society doesn’t always do.
‘You often see bags left on hedges or left on the ground and somebody else has to then come and clear them up.’