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Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

Maureen Comber

Cradle Lane.

Maureen Comber is right. Hampshire County Council is wrong.

But still it is refusing to correct its maps.

The issue: Is the whole of Cradle Lane a public highway or is it not.

Maureen has proved beyond doubt that the public highway stops at the hatch or gate AB.

For riders this means that they have suffered years of abuse as has this historic lane itself, from the use of mpv's damaging the fragile clay subsoil.

All non-motorised users could look forward with pleasure instead of dread to using the lane if it was protected by a Traffic Regulation Order banning motorised vehicles which were obviously not suitable for this type of road environment.

Many similar narrow country lanes were tarmaced during WW2 to ease the movement of troops but no thought has since been given to making them safer for non-motorised use, as they used to be. These days they have no protection at all other than in East Hampshire's local plan, and are subject to the national speed limit. It is a pity that Hampshire County Council appear not to support the community's wish to preserve and protect these ancient lanes but leave them to be abused by a few mud plugging 4WD's.

Says Maureen Comber

An Act of Parliament is definitive, and now that it has been pointed out that the rest of Cradle Lane is not a public highway it is up to the County Council to amend the Definitive Map. If they can find evidence that the Enclosure Act does not apply then they must produce it.

If not then I suggest that Hampshire County Council does its duty to keep the Definitive Map up to date. It should not be necessary for anyone to make application for a dmmo.

I am afraid that Hampshire County Council may not do as it pleases if there is legislation already in place.

Says Emma Noyce, Senior Map Review Officer, Countryside Service Culture, Communities and Business Services, Hampshire County Council

"Dear Mrs Comber

Firstly, to deal with the issue you highlight as per status. Thank you for the information. If you have evidence which you consider shows that the map and statement are erroneous in their depiction of the status of the route, then you are very welcome to make an application to amend the map under 53(3)(c)(iii) of the 1981 Act. I know you are well versed in these procedures, so if you would like an application pack to be sent, please let me know. In the mean time, we will continue to manage the route in accordance with its definitive status (ie as a BOAT) as any Map Modification Order process is subject to objection/appeal, and is likely to be lengthy.

Secondly, as I said, I wanted to make sure that you were aware of the current proposals for the management of Cradle Lane. In light of the volume of correspondence (both for and against the TRO) that we have received, and the nature of the comments made (particularly in reference to the County Council's policy on managing vehicles in the Countryside) officers held a meeting with representatives from Kingsley and Headley Parish Councils, County Councillors and representatives of the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Hampshire Countryside Access Forum. At this meeting it was agreed that the County Council would implement the proposed TRO against 4-wheeled vehicles.

However, it was noted that the County Council did not have sufficient evidence with which to proceed with the prohibition of 2-wheeled vehicles. By this I mean that the County Council is not currently able to demonstrate that it has followed its own policy of 'least-restrictive' measures.

To that end, it was agreed at the meeting that the County Council would re-open the route to 2 - wheeled vehicles as of 31st May, but that this re-opening would be subject to regular monitoring of the route by a team made up of Parish Council representatives (including formal incident reporting), coupled with the promotion of 'voluntary restraint' and good practice by the relevant user groups.

The meeting was very positive, and I believe that everyone round the table showed a real commitment to making sure that the proposals are successful in practice. However, it was also made clear that if the route becomes damaged by vehicles, then the County Council will act to insure that the investment of public money in repairing the route is safeguarded.

Maureen Comber is right. Hampshire County Council is wrong.

The Governement should sycamore rider-friendly policy !

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