Hopton-Gorleston footpath link row

A ROW has broken out over plans to upgrade a footpath link between Gorleston and Hopton with both sides claiming the safety argument for their own.Those in favour say the scheme will offer safer and healthier journeys to school for Hopton youngsters whose only other option is the cycleway alongside the busy A12.

A ROW has broken out over plans to upgrade a footpath link between Gorleston and Hopton with both sides claiming the safety argument for their own.

Those in favour say the scheme will offer safer and healthier journeys to school for Hopton youngsters whose only other option is the cycleway alongside the busy A12.

But opponents say that route is adequate and that they have their own safety concerns about encouraging youngsters along a rural, unlit path and asking them to negotiate the junction at Warren Road and Links Road.

Mike Butcher, chairman of Hopton Parish Council, said the existing path between the old Gorleston squash club and the Hopton Holiday Village was well-used but became rutted in winter.


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He said: “All we want to do is make it safe and suitable for people. I have got to fight for it because the people in Hopton are completely in favour of it.” He added that he had spoken to schools who were very supportive.

Plans are now at an advanced stage to build a proper cycle way with work planned to be completed before the end of this financial year. But after a meeting of nearly 60 objectors at Gorleston Golf Club on Thursday, Norfolk County Council's transport planners are now weighing up their comments.

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The objectors say that a new route would be on a private road, could see cyclists knocking into people and it is not needed as there is an adequate cycle path along the A12.

A consultation has also seen 27 people voice their opposition - compared to 16 pro-cycle path responses from residents and also support from local schools, the police and the Hopton Parish council.

Sally Gray, of Kennel Loke, said she was bitterly opposed to the “extremely wasteful” plans, adding: “It seems absolutely crazy to be spending this money on something we have already got.”

People in favour of the cycle plans are demanding that county hall does not ditch its plans in the wake of the negative reaction.

Mr Butcher, who is also a borough councillor, said: “It is a shame that the objectors seem determined to attempt to scupper a worthwhile scheme that will potentially benefit thousands of people in the general area and beyond.

“People have been using the path for 20 years and the idea to regularise it came from the parish council seven or eight years ago. We did not think anything of it then all of a sudden these people said they did not want it. There are no works planned where they live, they just do not want people going past their homes.”

Objector Bert Collins, a county and borough councillor, said: “Are we going to spend �90,000 on a path that we do not really need?”

He said the main reason he was supporting the objectors was that the cyclepath would pass properties on a private road.

The need for the cycle path was identified in a 1996 Yarmouth cycling strategy to provide a convenient, safe and attractive route.

Steven Reilly, Norfolk County Council spokesman, said: “Having met with residents last week, we are currently weighing up their feedback about the proposed scheme.”

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