Outdoor org gets proactive

The Outdoor Industries Association (formerly COLA) is in letter writing and press release mode in order to get its members higher up the political agenda
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Here's their latest letter and press release:

Letter of 19 March 2001 to Rt Hon Michael Meacher MP, Minister for the

Environment

Dear Minister

Further to my letter of 15 March 2001, I have reports of another very

difficult trading weekend for retailers and suppliers of outdoor clothing

and equipment.

I understand the Rural Task Force is to meet again tomorrow and add my

associations voice to those urging you to consider speedy action to

alleviate the considerable financial pressures now being felt not only those

in rural areas, but all businesses whose livelihoods depend on access to our

National Parks and other areas of countryside. In particular we ask the task

force to consider how the governments own cash requirement from business

can be limited. This might include the immediate suspension of business

rates, PAYE, National Insurance and deferment of VAT.

The need for a clear communications strategy has been highlighted by the

confusion in much of the press over the weekend. While many papers carried

headlines that the countryside was open, the detail made it clear that open

referred principally to rural accommodation, attractions and retail

businesses while public rights of way and access land - the very reasons so

many visit the countryside - remained firmly closed. The pages added to the

Countryside Agencys web site detailing footpath closures in England are an

excellent initiative and links to similar information for the other home

nations would be useful. The need for a wider campaign, to include

easily-sourced information for those without internet access, remains.

The Outdoor Industries Association is ready to play its part in reassuring

the public as to where they can safely go outdoors and looks forward to

learning of progress at tomorrows meeting.

Yours sincerely


ANDREW MAXTED

Director - Marketing & Development

Outdoor Industries Association

Press release:

The Outdoor Industries Association (OIA) has welcomed the progress reported

yesterday (Tuesday) by Michael Meacher and the Rural Task Force in

addressing the serious impact the foot and mouth epidemic is having on the

outdoor sector and the efforts made to open more footpaths and access land

to walkers, ramblers and climbers.

“Clearly eradicating this disease as soon as possible must remain the top

priority and outdoor enthusiasts must continue to support the farming

community and avoid livestock and other risk areas” commented OIA marketing

director Andrew Maxted. “The news that Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest peak,

has reopened is however a tremendous boost and the minister's announcement

that the national parks and local authorities are now considering where

footpaths can be safely opened is just what the outdoor sector needs to

hear - particularly if substantial walking areas as well as campsites can be

accessible for Easter.”

“Equally important” he continued “is the task force’s recognition that

retailers, as well as farming and tourist accommodation businesses, are

being hit particularly hard by this problem. We look forward to seeing

details of the proposals to increase rate relief for small businesses in

rural areas and urge the Inland Revenue and Customs departments to make good

use of their flexibility to reduce cash flow demands on outdoor retailers.”

“We are nonetheless very aware that outdoor retailers in town and city

centres are also reporting reduced sales as customers defer purchases of

clothing and equipment and many brand suppliers are facing cancelled or

postponed orders. We must therefore continue to press our case that all

outdoor businesses impacted by this disease, irrespective of whether they

are located in rural areas, should be eligible for financial support”

concluded Maxted.

The OIA has added a new area to its web site linking to the Countryside

Agency’s latest foot and mouth information pages and other sites which are

particularly useful to outdoor enthusiasts. The new area is accessible

directly from the association’s home page at www.go-outdoors.org.uk.

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