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New Forest cycling hub plan leads to row over "increased dangers"
2:27pm Friday 27th September 2013 in News
IT was hailed as a multimillion- pound boost for one of the New Forest's most popular pursuits.
But village leaders say they were kept in the dark about plans to make their community the “cycling centre” of the New Forest.
As reported in the Daily Echo, the district has been awarded £5.7m to improve cycling in the area and make it safer for riders.
Brockenhurst will be at the heart of the new scheme, which aims to create more than 30 jobs.
Proposals include a £300,000 family cycling centre at the village’s railway station, improvements to existing cycle routes and a network of mobile docking stations where people can hire bikes.
But the ambitious scheme came under fire at a meeting of the National Park Authority (NPA), the organisation that secured the cash.
Critics claimed the project would attract even more cyclists to the Brockenhurst area.
Parish council chairman Russell Horne claimed the potential influx of new riders was likely to increase the dangers faced by enthusiasts.
He added: “We had no advance knowledge of this announcement and had not been included in any part of the consultation process, even though much of the proposed activity will centre on Brockenhurst.
“The lack of consultation has led to a lack of support for the plans.
“The proposals would lead to a significant increase in the number of cyclists being channelled onto routes that are already inadequate and potentially dangerous.”
The NPA also came under fire from one of its own members.
Maureen Holding, who is also a Brockenhurst parish councillor, said: “Brockenhurst was not informed that it was going to be the cycling centre of the New Forest.
We’re almost swamped with visitors in the summer. This will bring many more visitors to the area.”
NPA chief executive Alison Barnes replied: “Let’s chat. There an opportunity here and we’d like to take time to make it the right opportunity.”
In a statement issued after the meeting the NPA said it had consulted a “wide range” of organisations including the Forestry Commission and the New Forest Tourism Association.
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