Memorandum submitted by the Byways and
Bridleways Trust (DMB 52)
1.1 The proposals would serve "Best
Value" principles far better if the new trail were also to
be available to equestrians and cyclists. At 4m wide, apart from
the spreading room, the proposed trail is wider than many bridleways,
and since gates are to be preferred to stiles, it will be passable.
There will obviously be exceptions, pinch points where the trail
has to be narrower for physical reasons, or involves steep steps,
but there will be many stretches where multi-use is possible.
We fully support the submission from the CTC, but would add two
1.2 Horse riders gained no additional access
under the CROW Act and do not enjoy the large resources available
for the promotion of cycle routes. They are increasingly endangered
on the roads, yet riding is a very healthy exercise which can
still be enjoyed by the elderly who find long walks difficult.
Provision for riders should not depend on permissive agreements,
which can so easily be withdrawn and are not always well publicised.
We were delighted to see that climbers are deemed capable of taking
responsibility for their own and other users' safety, and consider
that riders of both horses and bicycles are equally capable of
deciding where they can safely ride, without endangering themselves
1.3 It will be very difficult to prevent
multi-use in practice and the Trust suggests that Police and Ranger
services have far more important work to do than chasing ponies
and cyclists off a broad trail where they are doing no harm.
2. The Trust warmly welcomes the new provision
for 3rd party liability. The cost and fear of insurance proceedings
does great harm to initiative, self reliance and ultimately to
understanding and enjoyment of the countryside. We are concerned,
however, that where existing rights of way form part of the coastal
trail, they are to be "excepted land". This means, for
instance, that where there is already a 2m wide public footpath,
there will be two different regimes: the current liability on
the old footpath and the new one on the extra two metres, which
may lie on one or the other side or both, a sure recipe for expensive
litigation if the rabbit hole which caused the sprained ankle
straddles the invisible dividing line. We recommend that such
existing routes be not treated as "excepted land" in
3. We note in explanatory papers from defra
and Natural England that temporary diversion is expected to solve
various difficulties. The process of legal diversion is cumbersome
and expensive and we fear that resources of officer time and money
will be used up on this to the detriment of other and more beneficial
work on the trail and on rights of way in general. It might be
possible to devise a simpler procedure for temporary diversions
to be made by the managing authority, subject to stringent safeguards
as to duration, frequency and suitability of the alternative,
and the Trust recommends that stakeholders be consulted.