Lympstone life has been shattered

PUBLISHED: 01:01 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:53 10 June 2010

Last Saturday, Lympstone was encouraged to celebrate the official opening of the cycle path from Exmouth. I, however, was in mourning mourning the loss of a village that I grew up in. Its charm has been destroyed with the arrival of the path and hordes

Last Saturday, Lympstone was encouraged to celebrate the official opening of the cycle path from Exmouth.I, however, was in mourning - mourning the loss of a village that I grew up in. Its charm has been destroyed with the arrival of the path and hordes of path users. By routing vast numbers of walkers and cyclists straight through the heart of the village, it has lost the unique sense of community and tranquillity that have made it such a delightful village to live in. Visitors have always been welcome, but their numbers have never before impacted on the village adversely. In their choice of route, Devon County Council has destroyed this quiet backwater for everyone and turned it into a through route. Driving and cycling through feels unsafe now and living here feels different - like the village is some quaint exhibit on show to thousands.Mr Reece, Councillor Peter Acca and others have vocalised in their letters what lots of Lympstone residents have been thinking - why does the trail leave the railway line after only one and a half miles and make a dangerous diversion along our one of our village's narrowest lanes? Did the person at County Hall drawing the line on the map really think about the safety of users or the impact on our community, or is this a cheap short cut?I am appalled by Peter Acca's revelation that Devon County Council has ignored our parish council's advice and been deliberately obstructive when asked for information which affects the safety of trail users and the lives of the villagers. DCC has withheld risk assessment information that our parish council has requested and ignored approaches by our concerned police officer. I'm disappointed that more people did not get behind our local council's campaign for a safer route - perhaps because they were unaware of their efforts. There was nothing about it in our parish newsletter and I feel the whole thing was hushed up.I voiced concerns myself at the DCC exhibition set up in the village to promote the trail. When I asked about projected number,s I was told DCC couldn't really say, but that the council didn't anticipate user numbers would be large enough to cause traffic problems.... SPIN! It's chaos at the weekends already and that's without tourists thrown in and users coming at us from both directions. If anything like The Camel Trail's 400,000 people use the trail annually, we will be gridlocked and feel like we are under siege.The trail should stay alongside the railway track to Underhill car park, as the parish council suggested, so avoiding the hazards of Sowden Lane and Cox's Hill. Those wishing to explore the village and enjoy its pubs, shops etc could leave their bikes where there is plenty of parking and public toilets (the only ones between Exmouth and Topsham). It's an obvious choice of route when safety is really given priority, and functionality is considered. DCC has a responsibility to both villagers and users to create a proper 'trail', not just a number of short off-road sections linked by dangerous roads. (Exton and Topsham will be adversely affected, too, by large numbers of users or poor roads through residential areas.) With so many potential accident black spots along the route, how can DCC brand this 'The Exe Estuary Trail'? It's misleading. 'Assault Course' might be more appropriate - not for the faint-hearted and not designed with young children in mind.J Evans, The Strand, Lympstone.

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