Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by Worcestershire Bridleways and Rider’s Association (AB42)

Summary.

We give reasons why financial assistance to landowners should be given to improve public access and that this should be in the Agricultural Bill (Part 1, section (1) (b). We ask that financial assistance is used to improve the rights of way network and access to open spaces and that horse riders and carriage drivers are included. We give reasons for this and examples of how this would help us.

Introduction.

We are the Worcestershire Bridleways and Rider’s Association (WBRA), a group dedicated to encouraging and helping riders to access the bridleway network in the county and to enable them to ride safely away from traffic. We are affiliated to the British Horse Society. We have established 21 places where riders can park and ride the local bridleways as, increasingly, riders find that it is too dangerous to ride on the roads near where their horses are stabled. Their riding could be greatly improved if nearby landowners were encouraged to allow access to field headlands and across their property.

Evidence.

Worcestershire County Council manage 15,677 (4,604km) public rights of way of which

2,358 (692km) are bridleways.

16 (3.8km) are restricted byways.

24 (7.7km) are byways open to all traffic.

Some parishes have a high percentage of bridleways, but most have very few. This reflects how, when the definitive map was drafted on the late 1940’s there was no continuity across the county and this has led to a very fragmented map of routes where riders can ride safely.

In recent years our country lanes have become very busy and a mixture of heavy traffic and horses combines to create a very dangerous situation.

Several factors have contributed to this.

1.     Increased house building on the green belt.

2.     The use of satellite navigation which introduces drivers to narrow lanes.

3.     The busy, 24 hour, 7 day a week working and leisure culture which has resulted in the traditional "rush hour" being extended throughout the day and increased opening hours of leisure, work and retail premises has left few quiet days at times.

4.     On line shopping has increased the number of delivery vehicles on our formerly quiet lanes.

5.     For a time we had access to land under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme for permissive bridle paths. Sadly this scheme was only temporary and we have now lost this benefit.

Recommendations.

To consult with landowners to find a solution which would be of benefit to rider’s safety and enjoyment of the countryside and to compensate these landowners financially.

These could be short "behind the hedge" link ups of existing bridleways to avoid busy roads or a more extensive length of riding route.

Yours sincerely,

Camilla Mascall

(Chair - WBRA)

October 2018

 

Prepared 30th October 2018