Petition against 'unfair' horse riding beach ban signed by 4,000 people
- Credit: Danny Overton
The horse-riding community is in uproar after a controversial clampdown means riders are now banned along Frinton beach.
The restrictions, which have been enforced by landowners Tendring District Council (TDC), have been met with fierce objections from local riders who say they are being treated "unfairly".
New signs are currently being installed by the council, which has decided to ban horses at the beach up to the end of September.
In the winter months riders will only be allowed to use the beach until 11am at low tide, which the council said is to ensure everyone’s safety.
It said the ban has been introduced following a number of issues caused by a "small minority of riders" last year and has been taken after consulting with the residents’ association, beach hut association and local ward councillors.
The decision has caused uproar amongst the horse-riding community, with mum Emma Overton, who has ridden at the beach for more than 30 years, launching a petition.
In less than a week it has been signed by more than 4,000 people, with many stating the "beach should be available for all".
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Mrs Overton, from Little Clacton, who frequently rides at the beach with her two daughters, said the decision is "unfair".
"There is a lack of bridal paths around here for riders, and the ones we do have are useless and often take you to a dead end," she said.
"Horses and riders love going to the beach and being in the sea water, and it is brilliant exercises for horses.
"This has really rubbed the horse community up the wrong way."
Mrs Overton said she understands why the decision has been made, as often large crowds are drawn to the beach and this is a concern because of Covid, but it is the "way they have gone around it" which has angered people.
"It's really sad as horse riding at the beach is part of the heritage, and the Boxing Day hunt rides used to take place there for years," she explained.
Last summer, the ban was enforced between 9am and 6pm, but the complete crackdown is what has upset riders.
Mrs Overton said she hopes to negotiate with the council following the army of support she has received, and is being supported by conservative councillor Peter Harris, who represents the Weeley and Tendring ward.
They have called on the council to explain why the community was not consulted before the decision was made and for it to be reviewed.
Mike Carran, TDC assistant director for economic growth and leisure, said Frinton beach was a beautiful place for all to enjoy, but had to be used sensibly.
“Unfortunately, a small minority of riders have caused issues in the past, by not respecting the presence of other beach goers or the designated access routes,” he said.
“This is disappointing, when we know the vast majority of riders – especially those based locally – are responsible and seeing a horse ride along the edge of the surf is wondrous to behold. This action is being taken after consulting with the residents’ association, beach hut association and local ward councillors.
“Access to beaches for horses is relatively rare in this country, meaning Frinton becomes a magnet for this activity – and it is important we safeguard this for the future.”