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Forest group anger at pony drift cancellation
ONE of the oldest New Forest organisations has said it is “angry and appalled” that apony drift was cancelled to avoid clashing with a mass cycling event.
As reported in the Forest Journal, the Verderers had planned to carry out one of their annual round-ups of commoners’ animals at New Park, near Brockenhurst.
But organisers deemed the drift could be dangerous with 3,000 cyclists taking part in the Sportive event through the forest on the same day.
Now chairman of the New Forest Association (NFA) Peter Roberts has told Verderers: “We wish to make it clear in the strongest possible terms that there should never have arisen a situation in which a commercial recreation event, of whatever kind, should be allowed to take precedence over a drift.
“How many times does it have to be said that this is a working forest and that without the commoners' and their stock it would not exist?
“It is now clear beyond any doubt that the frequency of large commercial events and the numbers attending them are far beyond the capacity of the forest.
“I say it again, this is a working forest – recreation must come second. I could stand here all day and recite anecdotal evidence about inappropriate and unsafe behaviour, by cyclists in particular, at these events.
“The rudeness seems to emanate from the frustration of some cyclists who wish to race, against themselves, the clock or fellow competitors.
“As a race the correct procedure is for organisers to apply to the police to close the roads.
“The forest community has been pushed around for a long time by the commercial interest in recreation – we have reached a point beyond which it must not go.
But Martin Barden of UK Cycling Events said organisers booked the venue late last year and informed the authorities.
He added: “Despite offers of altering our event and working with the drift to ensure it was safe and could continue, the Verderers made the decision to move it to another day. We hope that with better communication from the Verderers, future clashes can be avoided.”
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