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9th Dec, 2021

Residents disappointed over 'frequent closure' of new Warwick cycle link

DISAPPOINTED residents claim a new cycle link in Warwick designed to improve access is often closed.

The new route on St Mary’s Lands connects the racecourse entrance to Linen Street and links existing cycle paths to Aylesford School to the south and the Woodloes to the north.

The project to implement the link, managed by Warwick District Council (WDC) with Warwickshire County Council and cycle network charity Sustrans, forms part of a £2.2million masterplan to improve public access and wildlife diversity on St Mary’s Lands. The traffic-free route also aims to encourage active travel.

But Friends of St Mary’s Lands say the route is frequently closed, even on a bank holiday weekend, with a padlocked gate.

Spokeswoman Linda Bromley said: “This route was intended to be of particular benefit to school children, offering a safer option to the hazardous Hampton Road.

“We now understand that the cycle route is to be locked from 7.30pm to 7.30am every day but there are no signs indicating this.

“Sadly, there are many occasions when the keyholder has failed to open the gates, even at 10.30 am. Cycling school children and shift-workers could reach halfway and find their way barred by locked gates.

“The swing gate is certainly not suitable for bicycles and members of the public have struggled to haul their bikes over this.”

The fund-raising group say it has since discovered the path is a ‘permissive path’ meaning the racecourse is under no obligation for it to be used as a cycle route.

Mrs Bromley added: “The Friends, when supporting the original plan for the cycle route, did not agree to this.

“We have to question the wisdom of using £400,000 of tax payers’ money on this venture if it is not fit for purpose.

“To ensure this cycle route proves to be the asset to the community that was first envisaged, we ask all parties to work together to ensure that it remains accessible at all times.”

Warwick District Council admitted it occasionally appeared the gate had not been opened when it should have been.

A spokeswoman explained: “To provide this route for local people the council had to negotiate access over land held under a lease held by the Racecourse, who have agreed to make sure it is open and free to use whenever possible.

“Unfortunately in the past few weeks part of the cycle path has been subject to abuse by motorcyclists which poses a big concern to us. We have therefore made the decision to lock the larger gate at night from around 6pm to 7.30am.

“It does however appear that there have been times when the gate has not been re-opened when it should have been, for which we apologise and will take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Our preference is for the gates to remain open and we will keep these arrangements under review.”

Access or misuse problems can be emailed to ranger.service@warwickdc.gov.uk.

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