Cycle event under scutiny but goes without a hitch

THE latest mass cycling event in the New Forest has passed off without incident.

A total of 650 cyclists took part in Wiggle Fallen Leaves on Sunday, starting and finishing from the Foxlease Girl Guide|centre near Lyndhurst.

Wiggle events have proved controversial with vandal attacks by campaigners unhappy about the disruption caused to residents’ lives.

Incidents have included sabotage, with tacks being laid on the road.

Last weekend's event mainly took place on Forest tracks and the numbers were limited due to the event needing a licence from the Forestry Comission, compared with the 5,000 people over a weekend at other Wiggle rides.

There were three rides, of ten, 26 and 35 miles, taking in Burley, Holmsley and Brockenhurst.

Martin Barden, of organisers UK Cycling Events, declined to discuss how the event had gone.

Tony Hockley, chairman of New Forest Equestrian Association, said the event appeared to have passed off peacefully: “The only problem were two gates left open on the A35 at Holmsley and there weren’t marshals there, although organisers put someone there later in the morning. There was a potential problem with livestock getting on to the main road.”

Peter Roberts, chairman of New Forest Association, said: “We are keeping a close eye on these events because we are worried about commercial recreation in the Forest.”

Last month it emerged that UK Cycling Events had been barred from using New Park, Brockenhurst – home of the New Forest Show. A nearby pony round-up was scrapped, sparking claims that cyclists were being given priority over the running of the Forest. UK Cycling Events is hoping to use the Gang Warily recreation centre in Blackfield.

County council chairman Ken Thornber said recently that he could be forced to regulate the events. Speaking at a dinner in Beaulieu he said: “Competitive cycling is changing the character of the Forest for the worse. If the organisers don’t agree to enforce a code of conduct it falls to us – the local highway authority – to take action to regulate these events.”

Next year’s Wiggle New Forest Spring Sportive is due to take place on the weekend of April 12-13.

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