County rethinking plan to tarmac West Row to Mildenhall bridleway after riders protest

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Plans to tarmac a bridleway are being reviewed after riders galloped into action.

Suffolk County Council two weeks ago revealed a £220,000 plan to tarmac the bridleway from West Row to Mildenhall to create a cycleway.

Trudy Lovatt, centre, with Tori White on Avalon, left, and Fiona Smee on Etola on the bridleway

Trudy Lovatt, centre, with Tori White on Avalon, left, and Fiona Smee on Etola on the bridleway

But riders, backed by the British Horse Society (BHS), say the plan puts riders and cyclists at risk and were angry county officials failed to consult with equestrian bodies.

Trudy Lovatt, who has a stable yard in West Row, said: “Cyclists approach swiftly and silently and some weave between groups of horses.

“The other issue of tarmac is how will they stop the racing cyclists?”

Cyclists can legally use bridleways, but her concern is that tarmac will allow them to go faster and more quietly. She suggested a cycleway along the Mildenhall Road where it would also serve the airbase.

BHS regional access and bridleway officer Alison Balfour-Lynn said: “It’s absolutely bonkers to consider surfacing any part of it, especially with blacktop.

“Blacktop is completely inappropriate in a rural setting.”

She felt the current surface was good for all users and only some tree pruning was needed at the Mildenhall end.

Bill Phillips, whose home is next to the bridleway in West Row, said: “They’re calling it an upgrade of the bridle path, but they’re destroying it. ”

West Row’s county councillor Colin Noble said people had been asking for a cycleway between West Row and Mildenhall for the seven years he has been a councillor so the county obtained a £150,000 government grant to do it.

“The funding was there and it was what the community had asked for,” he said. “I fully accept, not these members of the community.

Following riders’ protests he and officers reviewed plans He said they will discuss with the BHS a variety of options to provide surfaces suitable to horses as well as bikes, including the possibility of a tarmac surface alongside a horse riding surface.

Mrs Lovatt called riders to a protest ride on the bridleway on Saturday from 10.30am from Popes Farm, Pamments Lane, West Row.