December 11 2013 Latest news:
Monday, October 7, 2013
An organisation which campaigns on equestrian issues has said it has managed to negotiate a “compromise” with Suffolk County Council over controversial plans to tarmac over a bridleway in west Suffolk.
There has been outrage over the county council’s proposal to spend about £250,000 creating a cycle path between West Row and Mildenhall which would include tarmacing over a grassy part of the bridleway. But the county council is now planning to retain the grassy track and have a parallel tarmac surface next to it.
As well as a protest ride last month, more than 400 people have signed a petition against the county council’s original plans. People have questioned the need for the new cycle path, highlighting the East Anglian Daily Times’s War on Waste campaign.
Petition creator Alison Balfour-Lynn, regional access and bridleways officer for the British Horse Society, said the route - Bridleway One - was just one of three rural and beautiful bridleways in the area.
She said the council’s original proposal for a multi-user track would contribute to the “ever increasing suburbanisation of the countryside,” adding it was not only dangerous for horse riders, but “totally unnecessary” as the current track is suitable for all classes of user.
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said they had been working with the British Horse Society and other stakeholders to see what alterations could be made to the current plans for the bridleway.
He said: “We believe that we have found a solution which, at certain points, involves retaining the existing path and laying a suitable tarmac surface next to it. This will accommodate all users. Councillor Colin Noble will be attending a public meeting in West Row this evening and following that we hope to publish a more detailed plan going forward.”
Ms Balfour-Lynn said she was “very pleased” Suffolk County Council had “seen reason” but added: “It’s not a result everybody is happy with. A lot of people don’t want the bridleway touched at all - apart from maintenance.” Trudy Lovatt, a horse rider from West Row, said one of the reservations was cyclists would still be able to travel much faster along the new tarmac surface which could lead to accidents with horses.
The public meeting is at the Judes Ferry pub in West Row at 7pm.