The military seems to be lost on a Whittington bridleway and drowning in a dried up brook.
A major project to restore the local shooting ranges, off Common Lane, appears to have turned into a farce.
The MoD would not deny claims that vast bullet-catching sand hills had been plonked in the wrong place and had to be moved.
Nor would officials comment on a long list of complaints from villagers about their seemingly chaotic management of the moorland.
They claim the site will be re-open for military training this autumn.
But two simple issues still remain and the mighty army seems incapable of fixing either one.
How hard can it be?
One: disabled riders cannot get through new gates that block a bridleway.
Two: the army has dammed up a brook and animals are going without water.
Drowning in confusion
It is as if the MoD does not understand how gates and brooks work. Though that has not stopped officials popping up all over the place claiming they do.
Disabled riders cannot open the gates because there is not enough room for them to get their horses alongside so they can reach the latches.
An official said vegetation had been cleared. Which made no difference.
Then he said replacement gates would be installed. Which will make no difference.
Then he said the gates were not in the shooting ‘danger area’ so they cannot be locked shut. Which makes no difference.
Another official suggested the gates were in the ‘danger area’, adding, gravely, that these concerns were taken, “very seriously”.
And that, apart from the fact he is wrong about their location, still makes no difference to riders trying to get through the gates which serve no obvious purpose other than to upset people.
Hearts froze when the MoD officials said Staffordshire County Council’s ‘rights of way team’ was involved.
Clifton Campville parish council wrote to the, ‘team’, about a bridleway. The, ‘team’, took 21 years to write back.
The official who takes things, “very seriously”, failed to turn up to a meeting to look at the blocked brook because he was sat in an office on the wrong part of the ranges.
But later he said he had been along and noticed that a culvert had collapsed.
He said it would be taken out, repaired and put back. Which will make no difference.
He failed to spot that if you put in a culvert whose pipe is above the surface of the water it is supposed to channel it is not a pipe, it is a dam.
The ‘Phoenix’ wrote to the man in charge of the ranges project, Major James Salisbury.
He said: “Your attachment below will also be dealt with to allow us to answer and again I do emphasis along with our other duties within our work we will do so.” (sic)
Nothing has been heard of him since.