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Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

Maureen Comber

Cradle Lane......And still the story continues

Maureen Comber reports on latest meeting with HCC

"We have been disenfranchised from our use of the country lanes,
many of which were bridleways before WW2."

Says Maureen Comber

Says Maureen ComberOn reading the article on Bradley Lane from Patricia Stubbs on Horseytalk this morning, it confirmed my thoughts that the policy to allow motor cycles while banning 4WD's on BOATS, is possibly some hidden new National policy dreamed up by one of the Quangos that control us all these days, possibly IPROW (Institute of Public Rights of Way), National Parks, Natural England? It certainly was not in any government manifesto.

Last evening we had a retrospective meeting called by HCC, possibly because they had been very selective in their invites to the meeting held on 9th January 2012, at which only the Trail Riders plus two of three Parish Councils had been invited. Last nights meeting turned out to be just a talking shop at which HCC officers explained the history of Cradle Lane by saying the complaints they held only went back to 1993 and there were not that many of them - you can imagine I invited them to look at The Story of Cradle Lane on Horseytalk - but that the proposal to ban only 4WD's has already gone to and been approved by the Executive Member.

Although there was a good presence from local people who for all the right reasons do not want motor vehicles on Cradle Lane, there was nothing that the meeting could say or do to change it because we were told HCC's policy is to take the least restrictive action and there is no evidence that motor cycles cause damage to the surface!! The situation would be monitored and the Police directly involved. No explanation was given as to how I could control an anxious steed whilst whipping out a notepad on which to jot down the cycle's registration number, that is always supposing it was visible.

The priceless information was that HCC have a duty to protect and assert the use and enjoyment of the highway for all users. So why have they not been doing that for the last 40 years so far as Cradle Lane is concerned, or for the rural communities who would like to ride, cycle or walk on the rural lanes? No answer to that of course.

Anyway I pointed out that Cradle Lane and many other of the BOATS in East Hampshire, all of which are on a fragile clay subsoil, were it appears, RUPPS until 1987.

However looking at the Minute Book of HCC's Rights of Way Committee on 7th September 1987, I found a very short note which said that for the purposes of the government review of RUPPS, Cradle Lane was an unclassified road but that an inspection indicated vehicle use!

On that information alone, Cradle Lane was opened by Hampshire County Council to the rape and pillage from motor vehicles, making its stated primary use for walkers, horse riders and cyclists at best unpleasant or at worst from 2005 onwards, impossible.

There had been no survey, no environmental study, no bio-diversity plan, no health and safety risk assessment, no consultation with local people.

Surely this was a chance to put that right and return Cradle Lane to the status it had been since 1949, RUPP (now a restricted byway)? But instead we were reminded of rights which were given to motorists by HCC themselves on the slimmest of evidence and an indomitable determination to maintain those rights.

No localism then just the usual autocracy.

So what of the rights for equestrians as public users of the highways? Where does that leave us? Despite these protestations no effort has been made by any local authority or government to accommodate us and yet we pay our taxes just like everyone else. Consideration for horse riders can be nothing if not beneficial to all non-motorised users. Have we been too tolerant? Is it not time to remind the powers that be that we exist and expect consideration just like every other minority group in this beleaguered country. We have been disenfranchised from our use of the country lanes, many of which were bridleways before WW2. These are needed particularly for cycling and horse riding. We cannot be expected to get on our bikes unless the traffic priorities are changed in favour of non-motorised users. If not that then give us in exchange off road bridleways. But please register that non-motorised use is just not compatible with motor vehicles. It is they that kill and injure and rarely if ever the other way around.

In the last two weeks alone a family has been mown down by a motor cycle, the child died and the Grandmother is still in a critical condition. In the other incident a child of two was killed crossing the road by a motor cyclist. The only way to resolve the risk is to remove it. Strange is it not how health and safety enters into every aspect of our lives except this one?

The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !

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