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Ground Handling - Windsor Gt Park


togsie
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Hi All,

after reading some positive feedback about Windsor Gt Park as a venue for some ground handling practice i thought I'd make the most of the good weather and get myself over there for some much needed practice!

Unfortunately my experience was a bit different to the other guys that have used it, I'd only been there 15 mins when 2 wardens approached me and told me to pack it in. I explained, as others have done, what I was doing and that I wouldn't actually be taking off. I'm afraid that my explanation didn't cut any ice and I was told that I was breaking Health and Safety regs as my wing was too big and I could injure someone. This is despite the fact that I was in the designated kite flying area and there wasn't another living soul within a country mile of me.

I was probably just unlucky that this particular jobsworth of a warden and his mate were pissed off because they had to work on a Sunday and didn't like the idea of someone enjoying themselves, but it does seem that individual wardens have different ideas about what is and what isn't allowed.

It's a real shame because it is a great spot with plenty of room for everyone to enjoy themselves in safety.

Is it worth contacting the park authorities and asking for some clarification of the rules, or it best to let sleeping dogs lay just in case they come back with an emphatic NO!

Regards.

Togsie.

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Francis,

LOL, I like your reasoning and you are of course correct.

The problem is I wouldn't be able to relax and enjoy myself. I'd be always looking over my shoulder waiting for Mr Warden to pitch up and give me a hard time.

I was the same when I was a lad. My mates always thought that I was mad to buy a fishing permit, they were all happy to hide their gear in a hedge when the Bailiff did his rounds, but I could never relax and enjoy the fishing so I always ended up paying.

Perhaps it time that I started to live a little and break a few rules. Now where shall I start :wink:

Regards.

Togsie

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OK Togsie.

There is nothing in the Crown Estate paperwork that specifically excludes what you are doing. The objection on Health and Safety grounds is within a warden's remit to stop anyone doing anything that, in their view, puts other people at risk. (fair enough) But the park permit the flying of model aircraft and charge 46 quid a year to the perpetrators so their view of Health and Safety is qualified by their business acumen. They also allow horse riding and cycling, both of which will have a "safety record" nationally and of incidents within the park. (dont tell me horses are not a clear and present danger to anyone within 10 feet of their backends). There is some homework to be done here.

To satisfy the Health and Safety objection (legally) you need to make a risk assessment and write an operating procedure to mitigate that risk. e.g write down how other park users might be at risk from your activity (getting blown back) (loss of control) etc. And write operating procedures (e.g. "take wind speed measurements every half hour and log them" - good practise anyway) and ("cease activity if other public come within 200yards downwind" ) and ("stop when wind is above say 12 mph or gusts more than 5 mph difference") etc.

Next time you are asked to stop by the wardens comply gracefully and hand them your paperwork. Sit down for a picnic and wait til they've gone.

I suggest you dont call your activity "paragliding" or "ground handling" or "kiting" but invent a new pastime (not sport) of "breeze ballet" or "air sculpture". Refer to your equipment as an "expressive wind streamer" or "air painter" and discuss the spiritual elements of your activity (like tai chi or feng shua).

if they have an area set aside for kites and there is a maximum size stated in the byelaws then you wont be able to do it there. But the rest of the park is set aside for anything you want to do PROVIDED it is not endangering or inconveniencing others. Another good one for "jobs worth" types is ask them if its because you are black/a jew/disabled/mexican/psychotic/other and ask to see their badge and note down their number. Always remeber to stay light hearted and smile. get to know them and ask about their kids, get them talking about other stuff and make friends. Offer them a fag or a chocolate biscuit.

You could write a letter of complaint to the crown estate office stating how you are conducting your activity, pointing out how they permit other more dangerous sports (golf driving) (horse riding) (cycling) (model aircraft) and claim unjustified discrimination. However if you get specific permission you may also get a license and a fee!

Question you have to ask is "can I really be bothered"?

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Francis,

yep nail on head "can I be bothered". I think I'll wait until I'm feeling a little more mellow and then seek out Mr Head Warden armed, as you suggest, with a packet of plain chocolate Hob Nobs and some Golden Virginia and see if we can't work something out.

I'll be practising my light hearted and smiling demeanour over the next few days :D

Regards.

Togsie

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This is a piece of evidence secretly filmed by the Fun Police at WGP. The bit at the end where he performs his art, air dancing on the warden's van, gives you a clue to why they want him banned!

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Guys, I know it's a bit further for you to travel but I and a load of paragliding peeps have never had any hassle at Upton Park on the south side of Slough. I have also used a recreation ground in Sipson in full view of Heathrow tower without any probs.

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