Thursday 21 April 2011

Cradle Lane is a BOAT

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.

HCC proposal:
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.


  1. There are many reasons why it is wrong to permit motor vehicles on this path. It should never have been designated BOAT even tho' it took years of time and tax payers money to change it from RUPP, because it is clearly an old horse and cart track. Its fragile surface on clay is not able to support such use. This has led to years of misery as a few have ruined it for the many.

    Nobody has a right to make a nuisance and people have had to be tolerant for too long.

    It is part of our countryside heritage and deserves protection from the sort of abuse I and others have witnessed over decades.

    Taxpayers cannot and should not have to keep forking out to repair the damage done on these byways. There are many in this part of the world, which like Cradle Lane have become unusable through recreational use by mudpluggers. I have many complaints from residents in this regard.
    These days when motor vehicles dominate every road in the country this is just one way we might seek relief from their proximity which apart from safety is polluting and environmentally unfriendly.

    To maintain it for the benefit of all as you suggest turns it into yet another road. Surely we have enough of those already?

  2. Cradle Lane IS a B.O.A.T. and as such H.C.C. have a statutory duty to keep it open and in good order. Lack of funding is not sufficient reason to grant a T.R.O. to ban all motor vehicles. Maureen says "There are many reasons why it is wrong to permit motor vehicles to use this path." Cradle Lane IS a Byway NOT a path. "Nobody has a right to make a nuisance" surely driving a legal vehicle on a legal byway in a legal manner cannot be a nuisance! Also "people have had to be tolerant for too long." Everyone has to be tolerant of ALL traffic on ALL roads, providing vehicles and drivers are acting within the law. If drivers or vehicles are thought to be outside of the law call the Police and report it. "It is part of our countryside heritage and deserves protection from the sort of abuse I and others have witnessed over the decades." Yes it deserves protection from ABUSIVE drivers and from abusive TRO's!

    I think HCC have come up with good idea in their plan for a gradual re-opening in order to monitor any degradation of the surface of the lane.
    I am not totally against a TRO on Cradle Lane but it must be limited and take in to account HCC's responsibilities, recommendations and guidelines of all departments.

    Surrey Trail Riders Fellowship have raised a petition calling on Surrey CC to change the way TRO's are decided upon. Google Surrey TRF and follow the links to see how biased and undemocratic the system is at the moment.

    Footpaths for walkers, Bridleways for horses, Byways for ALL!

  3. One issue which often seems to be overlooked in the debate is that the nature of vehicles changed from horse drawn to mechanically propelled (MPVs).

    Many highways were hard surfaced to accommodate the evolution of MPVs (our current roads) as MPVs clearly required more robust surfaces.

    Somehow we have reached what many members of the public think is quite a ‘silly’ situation and one they are quite cross about when they hear the money that is spent on repairs. We allow MPVs on routes they were never intended for – unlike footpaths & bridleways where the user is of the same nature as it always was.

    I understand that public MPV use on unsurfaced highways was not a problem until relatively recently when ‘green laning’ came about.

    But perhaps there is a different argument for equating MPVs with horse drawn carriages?

  4. Green laning has not come about relatively recently, the Trail Riders Fellowship was formed in 1970 and the All Wheel Drive Club in 1968.
    What has come about recently is an increase in the number of MPVs
    being used on Byways in a careless or anti-social manner which is damaging to the road surface. [Incidentaly I think it has been proved that MPVs driven responsibly are less damaging than horses! But I will have to do some research on that as I find it hard to believe myself.]
    I think I should state here my interest in this matter, I was a member of the TRF in the late seventies and have recently rejoined after 30 years. In that time the increase in technology as applied to motorcycles has led to them being much more "off road" focused. Whereas before most TRF members had what are known as trail bikes basically a road bike with "off road" capabilities and around 20 bhp, now they tend to have enduro bikes, an "off road" bike with road capabilities and up to 50 bhp. With 4 wheel drives things are slightly different in that the vehicles have stayed much the same but modifications to these vehicles have become more extreme ie. winches, lift kits, bigger wheels/tyres etc.
    However none of this affects their right to use Byways providing the driver/rider has the relevant licence, the vehicle is taxed, insured and MOT'd and is not being driven in careless or anti-social manner. Damaging the road surface, even by an MPV on a Byway, may be a seperate offence but driving in a careless or anti-social manner is covered by section 59 Police Reform Act 2002.
    In conclusion it seems to me that the processes are already in place to deal with any dangerous/damaging/nuisance vehicles on Cradle Lane. So why does it need a permanent TRO? The answer will always depend on who is being asked the question. A horse rider may say that it needs to be permanently downgraded to a Bridleway at the expense of other legitimate users. A local homeowner would probably agree with the horse rider, unless he had a trail bike or Land Rover. I think that Cradle Lane should have a width restriction to prevent damage by four wheel drives but would object to [and expect to lose] any TRO on the grounds that it removes some ones legitimate Right of Way.
    What we are going to end with is probably a width restriction TRO that no one is 100% happy, with but may save Hants CC a bit of money in the future.

  5. The issue to me is that it is an ancient highway for all vehicles and it was the Highway authority which has sought to remove its statutory duty to maintain the highway it is on the list of streets as a d class road. This road was extended to the new road along the bottom of Alice Holt Forest by the Inclosure Act. That extension is maintained as a public vehicular highway but the rest is not, so why the difference?