Cradle Lane is a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic), which means that everyone has rights to use it (even horseriders) and not just those who choose to amble along and not abuse it. The lane has been closed for the last few years having been seriously damaged, in particular by irresponsible vehicle users, but that does not justify banning all vehicles as is currently advocated by Kingsley Parish Council (see below) and the District Councillor.
By all means punish the guilty but to remove legal rights from an entire group on grounds of convenience is simply wrong. If there is a statutory need to maintain the highway then it must be maintained for the benefit of all users and not just the select few. Lack of funding or other resources is not an acceptable reason for abrogating hard-won rights, neither is inconvenience to other groups of users.
It seems to me that the approach taken by HCC Countryside Access (below) is not only reasonable and sensible, it's the right approach.
It is proposed that the route is progressively opened up over the next two years, so that the effect of use on the surface can be seen and monitored, with a view to establishing the level of use which the route can sustain in the long-term.
- The route is currently open to pedestrians and cycles only and the proposal is;
- From May 15th 2011, open to ridden horses in addition to pedestrians and cycles
- From mid-Aug 2011 open in addition to horse-drawn carriages
- From March 2012 open in addition to motorcycles
- From March 2013, if the surface is holding up well, open to all users (including 4 wheel motor vehicles) for the summer.
Kingsley Parish Council position:
Kingsley Parish Council feels it appropriate to limit the future use of Cradle Lane to pedestrians, cyclists and horseriders only and request a permanent change of designation from a Bridleway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) to a Bridleway. It is relevant to mention that Cradle Lane forms part of the proposed Shipwrights Way which it is hoped will go from Bentley Station and Alice Holt Forest in the north to Queen Elizabeth Country Park in the south. This is intended to provide easy off-road access for cyclists, walkers and, where possible, horse-riders and disabled users.