December 9 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Controversial £220,000 plans to tarmac over parts of a popular bridleway have been given the green light despite fierce opposition.
The proposals to introduce a cycle path along Bridleway One between West Row and Mildenhall were approved in a meeting between Suffolk County Cllr Colin Noble and highways officers on Tuesday - less than 24 hours after Cllr Noble joined more than 100 others to discuss the issue at a public meeting organised by local residents.
The plans do not require planning permission because the council owns the bridleway, but the council has scaled back plans following opposition to the proposals, with the new tarmac path set to run alongside the bridleway.
Cllr Noble said: “All in all I think we’ve come up with a reasonable compromise. I accept the horse riding fraternity have been very vocal, but there’s been a lot of local support as well.”
Funding for the project, which will start later this month, has come from a £150,000 grant from Department for Transport, £50,000 from Suffolk County Council and £20,000 from transport charity Sustrans.
Starting at the West Row end, the path will run alongside the existing bridleway until being joined with an existing section of tarmac path close to Wamil Hall.
The remaining section into Mildenhall will see existing farm tracks, and dirt and grass paths, completed resurfaced with tarmac.
More than 500 people have signed an e-petition against the proposals, although a petition signed by more than 100 people was presented at Monday’s meeting in favour of them.
There have been concerns that the bridleway might class as a safe route to school and stop West Row children being eligible for free school transport, but Cllr Noble said this was not a concern “at this stage”.
Trudy Lovatt, who has a stable yard in West Row, said: “The overriding feeling is this is an awful lot of money for leisure users.”
Elizabeth Barrett, chairman of the Federation of Suffolk Byway and Bridleway Group, added: “I think it might set a bit of a precedent. This was done without proper consultation”