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Riders may soon be able to lobby local councils to reclassify local roads stemming use by large vehicles.

Local and regional transport minister Norman Baker has launched a consultation to give greater control to local councils on deciding the classification of their roads and therefore how they appear on maps and satnav systems.

Currently, if a council wants to downgrade a road — say from an A road to a B road — it has to be approved by the Department of Transport.

Mr Baker said: “This reform will cut red tape and mean councils can better control traffic in their area. I hope this will tackle some of the problems caused by satnavs, for example lorries being directed down unsuitable roads.”

Mark Weston, British Horse Society director of access, safety and welfare, said that this is a positive move.

“Proposals that will move traffic away from local routes are welcomed,” he said. “There can be real problems for vulnerable road users where satnav systems direct drivers to use roads they should not be using.”

Dressage rider Alix Grant, from Beds, said she believed “numerous accidents could be stopped by this proposal”.

She has written to her local council to complain about a bus “storming up” behind her.

“My horse reared up and jumped on the kerb, my friend’s horse froze to the spot and the bus made contact with them,” she said. “It’s very good to see this issue being addressed.”

The consultation will be open until May at http://www.dft.gov.uk/consultations/open/2011-02/

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (17 March, 2011)