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Plea to stop Wiggle cyclists from using New Forest Show site as car park
HORSE owners have called on organisers of one of Hampshire’s most popular events to help in their battle against mass cycling rides in the New Forest.
They want the New Forest Show to stop hiring out its site as a car park for people taking part in the Wiggle Sportive series, which regularly draws thousands of cyclists to the area.
It follows the controversy surrounding last weekend’s Wiggle event, which started at the showground at New Park, Brockenhurst.
A pony round-up on neighbouring land was cancelled amid safety fears, saboteurs tried to disrupt the event by spraying mud on roads, and residents have accused cyclists of riding dangerously and urinating in public.
The New Forest Agricultural Show Society has vowed to consider the horse riders’ request at its board meeting next month.
If the society agrees to bar the cyclists, Wiggle organisers will have to find other venues in the Forest or cancel any future events they were planning to hold at New Park.
However, the next cycle ride on December 8 is at Brockenhurst College and will not be affected by any ban.
New Forest Show staff have been approached by New Forest Equestrian Association (NFEA). The chairman, Tony Hockley, described the cancellation of last Sunday’s round-up as the “last straw”.
He added: “The purpose of the society, which leases the showground from the Forestry Commission, is to ‘support agriculture and equestrianism’.
“The use of the showground as a car park for commercial off-site events involving more than 1,000 cars and thousands of competitors is making life even harder for a struggling equine community that is the backbone of the rural economy 365 days a year.
“Without the availability of the showground site these cycle events would be restricted to a much more manageable size.”
New Forest Show secretary Denis Dooley said: “We obtained the lease of New Park in 2005 and since this time have offered a low-cost, flexible venue to a variety of different organisations.
“We have recently received a letter from the NFEA expressing their concerns over the identity and size of future events held at New Park and will look into these concerns at our next board meeting on November 20.”
Wiggle organisers were unable for comment but previously accused the Verderers of failing to give enough advance warning of the pony round-up.
Meanwhile, one New Forest resident claims she was almost struck by a cyclist who appeared to deliberately ride towards her in Minstead.
She said: “I saw them racing down the hill, hurtling along four or five abreast. I shouted ‘This is not a race’ because I was worried about ponies being hit.
“I also saw large groups – around 15 men – urinating at points along the way. They have no respect for the area.”
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