Bid to ban offroaders from part of Boudicca Way
- Credit: Simon Parkin
The public is being consulted on plans to permanently ban motor vehicles from a section of Boudicca Way that has been used by 4x4-driving off-roaders.
Norfolk County Council is proposing a traffic regulation order to prohibit vehicles from Back Lane, a rural byway that runs from Burston Road to Moor Road in Shimpling.
The track, part of which is on the long distance Boudicca Way footpath, which runs 36 miles through the South Norfolk countryside from Diss to Norwich, is currently legally designated as a 'byway open to all traffic'.
However after complaints from local residents about the activities of off-roaders, some of whom were driving it in the early hours, temporary bollards were put up to block access.
The new proposals, which are open to public consultation until April 30, would make the ban permanent and would include both 4x4 vehicles and off-road motorbikes.
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Nigel Frankland, chairman of Burston and Shimpling Parish Council, said the use of the track by traffic dated back to the 1870s when Back Lane was the main road used by horses and carts before the current road through Shimpling.
In the 1980s a dispute over access to the road was went all the way to the Secretary of State who said it should remain a byway open to all traffic, but his decision also opened the option for Norfolk County Council issue a road traffic order prohibiting motor vehicles.
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Mr Frankland said: 'It stayed a pleasant footpath until about five years ago when some 4x4 drivers discovered it and realised it was a byway open to all traffic with a ford and a 1:2 hill that they could climb up. Having owned a Land Rover in my youth I can understand why they thought that would be good fun. But it just turned it into a quagmire, an absolute mudbath.'
The parish council, county councillors and local residents, some of whom have donated £500, have raised almost £5,000 towards the cost of applying for the proposed traffic regulation order.
Martin Sullivan, Norfolk representative of the Green Lane Association, a body that promotes legal and responsible driving on ancient unsurfaced public roads that have vehicular rights of way, said he took a 'neutral stance' on the changes.
He said: 'This lane is quite isolated from any other green lanes, so it does not fit in with any routes that make an interesting day out. I appreciate that it forms part of a long distance trail. The lane itself tends to be wet with a stream and is generally wet anyway, which makes its surface easily rutted and damaged. So it is not what I would consider a sustainable lane.'
Mr Frankland said: 'About 80pc of people in Shimpling have written saying please keep the road closed and the bollards in place. We hope this will outweigh any protests from 4x4 drivers.
'One of the main reasons is that it is safer to come along Back Lane because the main road through Shimpling is very bendy and is used by lorries going to Burston Mill.'