Ron saddles up for protest ride


Riders claiming they have been cheated took a councillor on horseback yesterday to show him their grievances. Horse riders on Canvey say Castle Point Council has deceived them over the island’s bridle path, and that the path they now have could cause a serious accident. Coun. Ron Sweeting, of Thelma Avenue, who represents Canvey’s Central Ward, was invited for a ride to see the state of the bridle path.

Leader of the group of protest riders that showed him round was Mrs Rita Healey, 37, of Pantiles, Convent Road. She said: ‘They gave us a bridle path, but now that they have started work on the wall they have taken this path away and given us one which is very narrow.

“There is barbed wire on one side and a wooden paling fence on the other. It is in no way safe. There could be an accident. They must have known they were going to put the wall there all along, and that we would then not be able to use it. I feel they have fobbed us off. I don’t think it is fair. Other sports on the island have facilities, why not us? There was a splendid opening of the bri­die path, but now they’re keeping quiet. The path is not even a, pleasure to ride along.”  Mrs Healey has now taken her horse off the island because of the lack of facilities.

The party of seven riders and Coun. Sweeting followed the path from the start in Kellington Road. Afterwards, Coun. Sweeting said: “The path is in a disgusting state, just six to eight feet wide with barbed wire on one side and a fence on the other. If one rider came off there is nowhere for another horse to pass. The conditions are appalling. It is dangerous for youngsters who ride horses. There could be a bad accident.”

Coun. Sweeting said he would be raising the question at the council. He added: “We want riders to stay off the highways and byways. Something should be done.”

Mr Arthur Neighbour, Castle Point chief executive, said: “Footways will be restored to their former condition when the Anglian Water Authority works on the sea wall are completed. There are no legally-approved bridle paths on Canvey, but the council is looking at a series of plans for developing a network of bridle ways.”

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