A Sign of our Times
Maureen Comber e-mailed Andy Smith. Head of Countryside, Hampshire County Council
This sign has appeared on Broxhead Common very close to BW54 near to the gates of the Forestry Commission. I would like to ask what purpose it serves other than to spook the horses who will be unfamiliar with it? Not only is it very close to the bridleway which can be seen in the background, the sign can only be seen from one direction and is in the middle rather than at the beginning of a path.
I am sure that Headley Parish Council would not have asked for such a sign as we are trying to get rid of signage in the countryside, not have more of it.
In any case I thought HCC were trying to save money.
Please may I ask whether such a sign has been requested by the community and if not why has it been placed in such an unsuitable location and by whose authority? This seems contrary to The Big Society where the aim is for Councils to do things for the community rather than to them.
There are several unauthorised gates which cause a problem to horse riders which I have long requested be removed and yet no action is taken.
Please may I ask that it is either removed altogether, or if we must have more signage, it is moved to a more suitable location where it is not so close to a bridleway.
By the way horse riders do have a right of 'air and exercise' on Broxhead Common under the terms of the lease of the land to HCC. This was decided by Inspector Mark Yates NATROW/Q1770/529A/05/64. 2007. Therefore the reference that horses must keep to the bridleways is seeking to prevent or impede access under the 1949 WCFA, and is therefore unlawful.
Andy Smith replied to Maureen Comber
The sign that you refer to is located part way along a bridleway but this is because this is the point at which the bridleway enters the land we manage at Broxhead Common. The sign is visible only from one side because if you are travelling in the other direction (and therefore leaving Broxhead Common), the path user does not need to see entrance signage for the site.
The sign is not, in my view, overly close to the bridleway. The team took care to position it close to the edge of the woodland to the east of the path so that it was not visually or physically intrusive.
I am not aware that of any gates on the land we lease at Broxhead Common (although there are gates on other parts of the bridleway, on land for which HCC does not have any responsibility). We sought, and gained, permission from Natural England before installing all six new entrance signage at Broxhead Common.
Maureen Comber replied to Andy Smith
Unfortunately the information ... is incorrect.
BW54 leave the C102 on land managed by HCC (see map of the leased land). The sign is visible only from the direction at which one leaves Broxhead Common The sign is visually intrusive especially to horses as it has not been there before now. As it is new and large it may cause the horses to spook.
You may have gained permission from NE but not the local community it would seem. Certainly as the district access Officer for NE Hants, for the BHS, I was not consulted although I would agree lamentably, that would be the norm. Surely that is particularly important these days with the Coalition Government's policy of returning decision making to local people in the Big Society? Apart from which consultation would save HCC much time and unnecessary expense.
As for the gates, there are about five of them which obstruct all the bridleways on Broxhead Common. I have written to you and your area managers over many years with respect to these. They have all been erected without lawful authority and make life difficult for horse riders, young or old. They are all outside the curtilege of the fields so cannot fit the criteria for authorisation. As advised by your Officers I submitted a claim for the widening of BW4 in September 2009. This was fenced to a tight 3 metres rather than the width that the public actually used where it runs through the field. Also for the removal of the two gates pictures of which I attach.
I would therefore be most grateful if these matters were attended to as it would make a great improvement to people's lives.
Do you know any other dangerous or unlawful bridleway signs ?