The car park near Sizewell Beach, Suffolk, has been used for “donkey’s years”, one rider said, by equestrians to access an extensive network of bridleways nearby. But recent enforcement in parking regulations means only vehicles 5.5m long or less are allowed to use it.
The rider, who asked not to be named, told H&H the grass car park can get busy in summer, so of course “you’re sensible about when you go there”.
She has been in contact with East Suffolk Council, which sets parking rules, since before Christmas.
“We’ve been back and forwards, and I got an answer saying no, they don’t want horses in the car park as they’re dangerous and the general public is scared of them,” the rider said.
“They said horses would be scared of people revving their engines in the car park and would bolt, and that there’s no need for us to park there as there’s nowhere for us to ride from there.
“I’ve sent evidence of what other councils are doing; £20 annual parking permits, riders proving they’ve got public liability insurance, paying for two spaces if you take them up, but it’s all been ignored.”
The rider said she has suggested compromises, pointing out that horseboxes may still legally be parked on the road outside the car park, which she says is more dangerous, and that horseboxes are still allowed to use other council-owned car parks, which she says makes its given reasons illogical.
“It’s a bit of a weird one,” she said. “I asked if it was worth me coming up with solutions, maybe a couple of designated spaces in a separate area, but no.
“We’ve got a lot of riders now having to go a lot further to find somewhere they can ride, and have lost the opportunity to get out on the bridleways so many of us can’t access otherwise.
“We just want to have a conversation and come up with some solutions. I think they think we’re going to go away but we’re not going to. We’re not asking for the world.”
An East Suffolk Council spokesman told H&H: “It has always been our position that parking larger heavier vehicles on much of the surface at the Sizewell Beach car park is unsuitable, especially in wetter weather.
“Larger vehicles, including horseboxes, have never been legally permitted to park at Sizewell Beach car park. Although this was not enforced prior to the commencement of our wider civil parking enforcement responsibilities, we have not issued penalty charge notices to horsebox drivers, but have instead advised them of the rules and asked that they move somewhere more appropriate.
“We are not preventing horse riders from using the bridleways around Sizewell beach, nor from parking a rigid vehicle up to 5.5m in length, and without a trailer, in this car park.”
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