West Row bridleway row erupts again over surfacing

Protest ride on Bridleway One in September
Protest ride on Bridleway One in September
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Villagers have accused Suffolk County Council of breaking promises is made on changing a bridleway to a cycle route.

People who protested over plans to tarmac Suffolk’s Bridleway One between West Row and Mildenhall have been angered by news that the county can no longer afford to surface it with stone to match the surrounding land.

A progress report on the £260,000 project says the track through woods at the Mildenhall end has been widened more than thought possible to 2.5m.

But it adds: “The success in the wooded section has increased the overall cost and so we can no longer colour the full distance of the bridleway, as originally hoped.”

Bill Phillips, who lives next to the West Row end, said: “They’re reneging on their promises that it would blend in with the countryside.

“Surely, if the company doing it quoted to do the job, there’s no question of running out o money. They’ve got to do it to the specification.”

Trudy Lovatt, who owns a livery yard in the village and led protests in September, said: “It’s going back on the promises they made.

“They know who the people are now and they know what they agreed with us but they made no effort to consult.

“The aggregate was intended to give more grip. It wasn’t just about making it a nice colour.”

The British Horse Society’s eastern bridleways officer Alison Balfour-Lynn said black tarmac was ‘a totally inappropriate development in the countryside’ and that the county had failed to consult on the changes.

West Row county councillor Colin Noble said an extra £40,000 had been found to make the improvements at the Mildenhall end to provide a safer, wider path for all users.

“But it means there is no money for cosmetic treatment,” he said. “We said we would look at it [surfacing] but here’s a finite amount of money for these things.”