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However, fewer service providers are aware of the need to address issues under the Race Relations (Amendment) Act (2000). Fewer strategies are in place or are planned, that would encourage people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities to access the countryside. Despite BME groups being under-represented as countryside visitors, providers have tended to focus upon encouraging visits from the general population. They are reticent about targeting specific groups or communities.
It is felt that this is largely due to the uncertainty that service providers demonstrate in engaging with an issue that is perceived to be emotive. They question the 'political correctness' of segregating certain sections of society, and are sensitive to the possibility of offending under-represented groups.
The majority of organisations, whether local authority or the voluntary sector, who manage outdoor recreation sites and routes, lack confidence in approaching people from under represented groups. As a result, there is a lack of engagement with people who could use their facilities and the potential opportunities that inclusion would bring to both the user and provider is lost. Insufficient effort is made to find out why people are not visiting their sites and routes through surveys with non-visitors. Additionally, there is a lack of monitoring and evaluation.
This is exactly the sort of crap I was thinking of when, in my essay on multiculturalism in December, I discussed the tendency of identity politics to ethnicize all aspects of society. Who gives a fuck if not that many Afro-Caribbeans or Asians want to go wander around in the pouring rain and mud of the English countryside (I had to do it occassionally at school, and it was terrible)? More importantly, why is it the government's job to do something about it? Why should taxpayers have to pay for this kind of clenched-rectum cultism? This is a problem without a problem.
I don't know why this has riled me so much. I guess that it just irritates me to see a government agency ostensibly set up to deal with rural issues focused on the obsessions of the metropolitan socialworkertariat and not on fixing the actual problems of the English countryside, of which there are many. It's the same sort of big city "fuck you, backward-ass yokels" attitude of focusing on symbolic issues with little actual importance in improving the lives of rural people that I found so prevalent in the banning of fox hunting (cultic obsessions with animal welfare are another hallmark of the urban English middle-classes).
I'm a city guy myself, and can't claim to be all that interested in what goes on in rural areas, at least from a public policy standpoint, but I think that the people who live there deserve to have their lives taken seriously, and for government agencies who are supposed to be working for them actually do what they are supposed to, instead of superimposing their own concerns.