Horse riders are now well and truly on the agenda in East Hampshire and of course the South Downs National Park should make a difference.
Maureen Comber reflects on the story of Shipwrecks Way
The most important thing I've learnt was that whereas skate board parks, childrens playgrounds, walking and cycling are part of the expected funding opportunities, horses and equestrianism are off the radar.
When I asked for help or just to be included in negotiations with regard to the Shipwrecks Way it was not forthcoming. Undoubtedly the power hub did not like my curiosity as to how the project would be implemented. They sought to do a sticking plaster job and advertise it as a huge tourist attraction which would bring with it wealth to the countryside, at the same time as putting it forward as a sustainable transport route which apart from one or two spurs to railway stations it could not support.
Out of the blue I received an email announcing the opening of the first section of the Shipwrecks Way which actually ran through my Ward and starts in the adjacent Ward of Binsted in Alice Holt Forest.
I met with the Leader of the Council and Portfolio holder plus the Project Officer and asked for the opening to be delayed because I had not seen the proposed route, it was not it seemed starting at the given point, Bentley Station, but in the busy hub of the forest to which horse riders are denied access. Also horses would be forced to use a road when the forest exists either side of it. Another point of concern was the fact that the suggested route through the forest would only be permissive and horse riders would still have to pay for a permit to reach it unless coming by road from the horsebox parking area.
I therefore pleaded for a postponement of the opening until these issues had been resolved.
You know what happened next.
Having been thrown out of the Conservative Party my only realistic chance of re-election to the District Council was as a Lib Dem and as they seemed desperate to get me to stand for them, that's what I did.
I could not have foreseen either the huge backlash that would hit the Lib Dems from the Country or that their supporters would see me as a Conservative and therefore not support. Also for the first time ever we had a Labour Candidate which would not have hurt me as a Conservative but as a Lib Dem bit into my support.
We can comfort ourselves by knowing that horse riders are now well and truly on the agenda in East Hampshire and of course the South Downs National Park should make a difference.
I'm sure this is the bridleway.
More support for Maureen
Sorry you did not get elected. And also v sorry about the way the Tories treated you. so much for the big society ideals.
The Independent Forestry Panel
MP backs an equestrian representative
Labour MP for Oxford East, Andrew Smith, says
"I have today taken this up with Catroline Spelman as requested and I will write back as soon as I receive a response."
"I totally agree about the need for an equestrian representative."