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Bosses of Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive vow to re-route event after row with verderers about ponies
CYCLE event bosses are poised to slam the brakes on plans to send thousands of riders through the middle of a pony round-up.
They have vowed to re-route the Wiggle New Forest 100 Sportive after a stand-off with the organisation in charge of the animals.
Round-ups, known as drifts, enable experts to assess the health of each pony and are seen as a vital part of forest life.
But the verderers are refusing to give way over a similar round-up due to be held at nearby Balmer Lawn in October.
The issue was raised at the Court of Verderers, with speakers accusing Martin Barden, director of UK Cycling Events, of ignoring a new cycling charter published by the National Park Authority.
Official verderer Dominic May said a list of all round-ups due to take place in the forest was issued in January.
He said he wrote to Mr Barden last month and asked him to alter the route of the Sportive to prevent cyclists clashing with ponies being herded along the B3055 from Balmer Lawn to Hatchet Pond.
Mr May said: “Mr Barden acknowledged that he had received our list of drift dates in January.
“He also confirmed that he will sign up to the charter as it is currently worded.
“I made it clear that the verderers will not be cancelling the Balmer Lawn drift, which is one of the most important round-ups.
“Unfortunately Mr Barden would not confirm during our discussion that he will change the route or the date.”
Peter Roberts, former chairman of the New Forest Association, added: “I think the charter should be abandoned.
“Clearly it won’t have any effect.
“He (Mr Barden) will just do what he wants.”
'ONLY FOUND OUT LAST WEEK'
SPEAKING after the meeting Mr Barden said he only found out about the potential clash last week.
He added: “We have been working hard to re-route our course to avoid the drift.
“This is not a quick job as the planning and various risk assessments take time.
“We are keen to work with the verderers to resolve this issue and hope the verderers are willing to do the same.”
Asked about the list of round-ups sent out in January Mr Barden added: “This information was issued after our event was announced and does not identify the roads that will be affected, making clashes impossible to avoid.”
Following the cancellation of last year’s drift New Forest Show bosses banned mass cycling events from their land.
As reported in the Daily Echo, the events are now based at Matchams.
Opponents of mass cycle rides through forest land have tried to sabotage at least three of the events by placing nails in the road.
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