A stunning turn-out for this meeting, almost standing room only, but goodness knows why, because nothing much was happening. What might have proved interesting was the expected circulation of the draft habitat management plan, but illness has delayed drafting, and it wasn’t ready. The plan should, among other things, set out an action plan for cutting scrub on the hack rides and hack areas.
Bridleway diversions: Surrey County Council has made an order to divert various public rights of way on the downs, including several public bridleways. Generally, the effect is to regularise existing use, and in any case, the statutory hack rides are unaffected. One benefit is to extend bridleway 65 further north alongside Epsom Lane North, almost as far as Tattenham Crescent. So it was disappointing to hear that the orders cannot yet be confirmed, because one objector is objecting to the diversion of that same path. I understand that the objector is concerned about loss of public rights across Six Mile Hill. But because there is public access on foot to all of the downs, and the old route will remain a hack ride, it’s difficult to see the purpose of the objection. If it’s not withdrawn, the diversion order will have to be referred to the Planning Inspectorate.
Ebbisham Lane: Last month, I noted that Ebbisham Lane had again been made passable for traffic as far as the downs car park. At the conservators’ meeting, suspicions were raised that Surrey County Council would like to downgrade the road to a bridleway. There could be only one reason for that: to reduce maintenance liabilities (not that there’s much maintenance at the moment).