BMC debate a Concrete Crag

The BMC is rather cash rich despite the efforts of Bear Grylls to stop any profit in the BMC Travel Insurance scheme, although according to the BMC it is also people over 70 taking out the insurance and Snowboarder injuring themselves in the very expensive US (Expect premium increases in these catorgories in 2010). So despite this the BMC does have somewhere in the region of £800000 in the bank, and a 6% increase in membership from 2009 to 2010.

At the BMC’s last National Council meeting, and sadly my last one, as I stepped down from representing Wales on the Council, as weekend meetings means if I attended them all I would lose £1000 a year from my income. Anyway there was a proposal put forward by London and South East England Area Committee to create a concrete crag in a disused chalk quarry.

Now my initial reaction was, what a stupid idea, then I heard the proposed cost (nearly £1million), and I nearly shit a brick. There are all sorts of cost and legal implications around converting a disused quarry, that would be enough to put most investors off. However the basic proposal seemed to be a bit vague, and was sent back to see what it would cost to put a feasibility study together. With ideas that just a study to see if it is sensible would cost £10000 of BMC money, which seems to me to be throwing good money after bad, I’ll write a report for free that says it is too expensive and too many pit holes to justify spending so much money. If it wasn’t I am sure that an investor in London could be found.

Despite my negativity, which I did channel positively in the meeting to explain that we only have one International standard climbing wall in the UK, and that’s in Edinburgh. So maybe spending that money on another wall in England or even Wales might be more beneficial. However I live in an area that is surrounded by rock.

The argument that L&SE area put forward is that the majority of the membership of the BMC is based where there is no rock (i.e. the South East). As such the outdoor artificial crag would be a great asset. However an asset that I am sure they would soon realise is open to the fickleness of British Weather. Putting all the BMC’s cash eggs in the one basket means that we could end up with a white elephant like the millenium dome or even the wobbly bridge.

Whilst I have every sympathy for the London living climbers, if a project needs the sort of funding that they are looking at they need to be in private hands or the hands of local councils and grants. Imagine how many crags the BMC could buy for £1 million pounds.

This is certainly something that is worth keeping you ear to the ground and your eyes open as the L&SE area have been told to find out how feasible the feasibility study is, and possibly come back for funding.

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