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Fight for picnic spot tests council sell off policy
A PICNIC spot is the latest battlefield in the fight for the county’s public spaces.
The future for Backney Bridge picnic site at Sellack, near Ross-on-Wye, is linked with that of Queenswood and Bodenham Lakes in testing cash-strapped Herefordshire Council’s sell off of countryside sites it can’t afford to keep.
At Backney Bridge, campaigners campaign fear the council is ready to sell the site to “the highest bidder” without any of the conditions allowing public access.
This week, Hereford and South Herefordshire MP Jesse Norman and the Open Spaces Society were invited into the fray, with the Ramblers on the way.
The council has advertised the picnic site as for “disposal by informal tender”.
As with all the open spaces the council wants rid of, a takeover by a parish council or community group is an acceptable option.
But Backney Bridge campaigner Jane Robinson says the council cannot expect the local parish councils - Sellack and Bridstow - to solely take on the maintenance.
“This is not simply a local open space piece of grass verge, but a site for the benefit of all Herefordshire residents and further afield, as such the council should retain the site and, at the very least, share the maintenance costs with the parish councils,” said Janet.
“If the council has to sell the site, it should be on condition that public access rights will remain,” she said.
Backney Bridge is billed as “iconic “ in offering sumptuous views of the Wye and a disused railway bridge of “Herefordshire" stone.
A cycle way to Ross and a canoe launch have been proposed for the site previously.
By law, the council must consider any objections received before making a final decision on disposal.
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