Riders gathered outside Oxfordshire County Council’s headquarters this morning to protest over the closure of a bridleway next to BMW’s Cowley car production plant.
The “picket on horseback” was organised by the British Horse Society (BHS), which was landed with a £30,00 bill in costs for fighting the bridleway closure in court.
The charity had been trying to prevent BMW(UK) Manufacturing Ltd from stopping up Bridleway 75 and part of an unclassified highway in order to develop its Cowley plant. The way links two bridleways, giving riders access to Shotover Country Park and Brasenose Woods.
The battle reached court and on 15 October, a district judge at Witney Magistrates Court approved BMW’s application.
The demonstration attracted strong support, with riders, cyclists and walkers joined by BHS chief executive, two BHS directors and local MPs.
“It is monstrous and unfair,” claimed Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Johnston. “In future, other groups and individuals will be deterred from fighting for rights of way because of this.”
BHS chief executive Graham Cory said: “it is outrageous that the BHS is having to pay to do the council’s work in defending rights of way.”