Letter: Removal is a bridge too far
SIR – We recently became aware of a decision by Forestry England to ask Hampshire Council to remove the footbridge over the river by Martin's Road, Brockenhurst (A&T, 7th May).
There has been no consultation with the residents of Brockenhurst. Had there been, it would have become clear that this footbridge is extensively used daily throughout the year by locals and visitors walking to the Black Knowl and Bolderford Bridge part of the Forest. Many have children and dogs. Many are elderly.
The footbridge enables the river to be crossed by people from the eastern side of Brockenhurst – in particular the Balmer Lawn and Hollands Wood campsite areas.
The footpath and river crossing are shown on maps of circa 100 years ago. The route is published in many New Forest guide books as an excellent walk to be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.
If the footbridge is removed, the only alternative crossing will be via Meerut Road near the Cloud Hotel.
This will not only deter walkers but those that do use Meerut Road will be exposed to the tight and very dangerous bend which has no footpath.
For walkers with dogs and children, and the elderly, this would be a major accident waiting to happen.
At a time when recreation has become even more important and being encouraged, it is inconceivable that a primary footpath that has been used extensively by locals and visitors for a very long time can be arbitrary closed in this way. It is totally inconsistent with government and council policies.
We suspect the decision has been made as an economy measure by those remote from the Forest with no knowledge of the bridge's importance.
We understand the current extreme financial pressures on budgets but such decisions require a proper risk assessment and knowledgeable evaluation.
This bridge is an essential local asset and must be retained and refurbished, not removed.
Bernadette and Chris Daniels,