Dreadful weather did not deter more than 100 campaigners from turning out for BBC TV news cameras to protest about a borough council project which they claim has led to a beauty spot being covered in recycled road surfacing.
Although Cheshire West and Chester Council agreed to suspend the works at Cuckoo Lane, Little Neston earlier this month because of 'huge' local opposition, protesters are demanding the council undo the damage that has been done and agree not to lay the road planings over the rest of the ancient sandstone-surfaced bridleway.
The issue is now attracting regional interest with TV cameras filming the protest on Sunday which was also broadcast on local news bulletins.
Two days earlier BBC Radio Merseyside had broadcast live from the site and interviewed a number of campaign leaders about the works.
Activist Anthony Annakin-Smith said: “This project has struck a real chord with people who do not want to see our ancient, green and beautiful countryside covered in asphalt.
“With 600+ protesters on the ‘Save Cuckoo Lane’ Facebook site and more than 200 attending a recent Neston Town Council meeting there is no question that local people are very angry.”
Little Neston and Burton ward borough councillor Louise Gittins (Lab), who is supporting the protest, said: “The council have been unable to put together a coherent argument for the works, for which there was no prior consultation.
“Users of all ages and abilities have spoken up against the scheme, including cyclists, walkers and horse riders.”
Footpaths inspector Geoff Holland, speaking on behalf of the Wirral Footpaths and Open Spaces Preservation Society, added: “We hope that Cheshire West and Chester Council are listening to the growing chorus of protest against what has been done and will come up with a solution that restores the lane’s beauty and respects its ancient history.”
The borough’s localities portfolio holder, Frodsham councillor Lynn Riley (Con), who is responsible for public rights of way, said: “Work on Cuckoo Lane has been halted since early January whilst discussions continue to take place with Neston Town Council and residents regarding the bridleway scheme.”
She pointed out that ‘senior officers’ had attended a Neston Town Council committee meeting to discuss the scheme and three had made a further site visit to Cuckoo Lane.
“As well as attendance at these meetings there has been ongoing dialogue between senior officers and interested parties,” added Cllr Riley.
“We are currently considering options for the completion of the scheme and are taking account of a range of views to inform how the work will be taken forward.”