CAMBS: Thicket path has been turned into a sea of white bollards

The Thicket, St Ives

The Thicket, St Ives - Credit: Archant

AS cash for public amenities is thin on the ground I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but what have Cambridgeshire County Council and its partners done to the Thicket path between St Ives and Houghton?

I was looking forward to a pleasant stroll along the newly improved track, soaking up the bucolic charms of the Thicket. What did I find instead – a forest of reflector posts; ugly tarmac spreading into the meadow; nasty, white bollards, and the sort of cheap ballast you normally see on railway lines strewn across a once grassy slope down to the river.

To say I was dismayed at the heavy-handed way these works have allegedly improved the Thicket would be an understatement. As a family newspaper you couldn’t print the colourful language that actually came to mind. Suffice to say this is an act of official vandalism and whoever project managed it hasn’t a clue about how to improve the path in sympathy with its rustic character.

By widening the path to 2.5 metres, where once it was a gentle way for walkers who appreciated careful cyclists, it’s now a high-speed cycle path where ramblers are barely tolerated by the bulging-thighed lycra set.

The reflector posts along the most wooded part of the route now make it look as if the Thicket is about to host the TT races or the Grand Prix. This is health and safety gone mad. As woman and girl I have cycled along the Thicket for over 40 years without careering off the edge. It looks awful.

The white bollards half way along the path are more in keeping with an urban environment. Why not use wooden ones with integral reflectors? In fact why are they situated there at all? If they are to stop cars, they should be at the start and finish of the mainly pedestrian part of the path.

Is the next stage of “improvement” to tarmac over Nobles Field so it’s neater and easier to use for events? The way the asphalt now slithers under the gate and well into the meadow, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

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What angers me is that as a council tax payer my money was used in this way. Yes, the path needed repairing in parts, but this is ill-thought out, looks cheap and nasty and is completely out of keeping with a beauty spot. When will the council stop trying to sanitise and tidy up the countryside so it looks like part of a supermarket car park.

I suggest whoever managed this sits down, watches the film Fern Gully and then signs up for a crash course in aesthetics.


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