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Says Naomi Smith

Says Naomi SmithIt is all too possible to round a corner on horseback and come upon a group of cattle with no prior warning -this WILL result in a horse being badly spooked at best, bolting at worst -it is only a matter of time ........... read more

Meon Valley, Hampshire

A Background Briefing

"We believe that the South Downs National Park and Hampshire Council Council's £410,000 'upgrade' has resulted in a poor (and for some users, unusable) surface and the spoiling of a treasured bridleway"

Meon Valley A Background BriefingSays Steve Clark

1) What is this campaign all about?

We believe that the South Downs National Park and Hampshire Council Council's £410,000 'upgrade' of what they call The Meon Valley Trail (but what many of us just call The Railway Line) has resulted in a poor (and for some users, unusable) surface and that the work on trees has led to the spoiling of a treasured bridleway. We also believe the project was undertaken simply in a bid to secure central government funding under a cycling initiative.

The Railway Line has now been extensively widened and hardened, using large sharp stones that can be dangerous to equestrian users forcing them onto local roads including the dangerous A32.

It is now also proving unpopular with other user groups including many cyclists, dog walkers and those with disabilities, as the new surface laid is very unsympathetic for them, as well as being found to contain potentially hazardous sharp pieces of metal industrial waste.

Many deep holes that used to cover railway infrastructure are now exposed due to the widening and removal of vegetation along the entire length of the trail. Reports have been received of serious injuries to animals that have fallen into these holes on open sections some of which are 4ft deep.

A Background Briefing

2) Did Hampshire County Council or the South Downs National Park get planning permission before the work was undertaken?

No. The widening of the route and extensive felling of the adjacent trees and vegetation have also led to concerns over the legality of the works being carried out as no prior planning permission was sought.

Who did they consult before beginning the work?

SDNP and HCC claim a consultation was carried out before the project got underway. However, despite quoting from it on their own website, the SDNP said in a response to a Freedom of Information request that it did not have the consultation document. FOI

3) Who's involved?

We are an informal group of individuals – cyclists, walkers, horse riders and dog walkers and amongst us are people with disabilities and parents with young children. We cover a whole range of ages but share a common goal: that the old railway line is usable by all.

4) A lot of the work has been done, so what are the campaign's aims now?

We are looking for HCC and SDNP to support a sensible solution for the thousands of different users who have been affected by this work or who have safety concerns."

5) Some newspaper articles have referred to the group being a "horseriders group". Is this correct?

No, we want a surface that works for everyone and that includes cyclists, walkers, families, people with disabilities and horse-riders. We believe all user groups should be able to use and enjoy the Railway Line.

6) What's happening now?

We have a meeting booked with HCC and SDNP on June 2nd to discuss a way forward and in addition we expect a leading barrister's opinion on the legality of the work to be in next week.

7) How can I help?

In lots of ways including:


Says Pat Staples

Says Pat StaplesI am at a loss for what more to do after senior BHS official Mark Weston's quite considerate and reasonable sounding email. It seems to me that either I'm a whimp, or we are talking about a different track.

" Following those meetings I contacted the County Council and confirmed that the sections that still had exposed stones of greater than 40mm would benefit from being dressed with dust in accordance with the British Horse Society advisory leaflet Surfaces for Horses in England and Wales, so that horse riders can use the whole route now, and requested the erection of some fencing on the top of the bank at Cutts Arch to protect users of the bridleway from the drop."

Is this not what we have been asking HCC to do, especially for the track between Droxford and Wickham?


Says Tony BarnettSays Tony Barnett

Mark Weston has no qualifications in law, he often contacted me but I refused to help, BHS has no power to make decisions on any Bridleway and will not defend anyone where lawful access is the situation, he used to work in the Shrops county council, enough said?


Says Lesley Bishop

New entrance to the Old Railway Line at Mislingford, couldn't get close to the entrance as too close to the road for my dogs but the entrance is very uneven and the stones are deep.

Even my dog is following the bike track not walking everywhere as he did before the new improved trail!!!

Says Linda Wright

Says Linda WrightWe moved to a Shropshire location a year ago having surveyed the local OS map and noted the significant number of bridleways around the property. Sadly the map appears a total fiction. Scarce any of the bridleways are usable ........... read more

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