Riders’ relief as council U-turns on beach riding ban

  • A ban on riders using an Essex beach during the summer months has been overturned after the leader of the local council said the order had been imposed without official consent.

    Signs were erected on Frinton Beach announcing that from Good Friday (2 April) until 30 September horses would be barred from the sands. New restrictions were also imposed for the winter months, only permitting riding on the beach until 11am.

    Tendring District Council said the move was in response to “issues reported last season” and an anticipated influx of “out-of-area” riders and holiday makers when lockdown restrictions were lifted.

    Local riders felt they were being targeted unfairly by the ban and launched a petition that attracted 4,793 signatures.

    Last week, Tendring District Council leader Neil Stock announced that the decision had been made “by officers without the knowledge or consent of the cabinet at Tendring District Council” and that the council’s chief executive had been asked to undertake a “full and thorough” investigation of the events surrounding the ban to ensure it “does not happen again”.

    “On behalf of Tendring District Council I can confirm that there is no ban in force preventing horses using the district’s beaches, including the one at Frinton,” he said.

    He added that the local equestrian community was developing a code of practice, in consultation with the council, to minimise any risk to public safety going forwards.

    “The Council is proud that whilst access to beaches for horses is relatively rare in this country, riders have been always been able to use the Essex Sunshine Coast,” he said. “By working with the riding community on a code of conduct to preserve public safety, we are confident that we will be in a position to preserve this long into the future.”

    Local rider Emma Overton, who set up the petition, told H&H it had been “amazing” to find out how much support riders had.

    “When you see people posting on social media about horses on the beach, it’s almost always negative, so to have so many people step up and say they like seeing the horses was fantastic,” she said.

    “I think the signatures on the petition were 50/50 horse riders and the general public — there were people saying how every evening they liked to get fish and chips and go down to the beach to watch the horses, and other people saying how it gave them goosebumps seeing them gallop through the tide.”

    Emma is now helping to create a code of conduct for riders using Frinton Beach, along with fellow campaigners Wendy O’Brian and Nina Snow and Councillor Peter Harris.

    “We’re able to work with the council now instead of against them,” Wendy added.

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    “Peter’s wife rides and he is now also working to set a budget aside to open up more bridleways as this issue is emphasised that there are hardly any. Hopefully this is just the beginning of an effort to make a difference to everyone.”

    Frinton Horse Riders, the Facebook page used to fight the ban, is now being repurposed to provide a resource for those wanting to ride on the beach, including advice about tide times and avoiding busy periods.

    There has been a slight adjustment to hours for riding on the beach, which are now before 9am and after 8pm in the summer, returning to unrestricted access during the winter months.

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