District Council supports local parishes to own and manage the Langport to Muchelney Cycleway

The Langport to Muchelney Cycleway has taken a step closer to transferring to local Town & Parish Council management following work between South Somerset District Council (SSDC) and a consortium of representatives from Parish Councils.

Huish Episcopi PC, Langport TC, Drayton PC and Muchelney all want to ensure the cycleway that runs through Huish Episcopi and Drayton is well maintained through its transfer to local management and into the future.

A survey has recently been undertaken which showed that the cycleway is increasingly being used by local people and visitors. This information helped inform SSDC and the Town & Parish Councils in their discussions around managing the route.

Alastair Mullineux, a representative of the Town & Parish Councils looking to take on the ownership and management of the cycleway said, "This is an important asset to the residents of Langport, Huish Episcopi, Muchelney and Drayton and, indeed, many others. It is well used by walkers, riders and cyclists at all times of the year. It is essential that the track is kept open and well maintained for the benefit of those who live in the area and the many visitors who come to enjoy all that this area of Somerset has to offer."

The ever popular cycleway was first conceived as part of the River Parrett Trail project and was maintained by SSDC's Countryside Service. The gravel surfaced route stretches 2.5km and is formerly part of the rail network.

The route is in two parts, both of which cross privately owned land. Access agreements with the land owners were set up to allow public access on foot, bicycle and horseback as part of the River Parrett Trail project. The cycleway crosses the parishes of Huish Episcopi and Drayton but benefits communities from local and quite far ranging surrounding settlements.

The owner of the first section of the route agreed to sell his holding and the owners of the second section offered a reduced rental agreement to enable the local community's continued access.  In June South Somerset District Council's Area North Committee awarded a grant of £10,000 towards the purchase of the land and the programme of improvements.

Councillor Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Culture at South Somerset District Council said, "A great deal of work has been undertaken by the District Council and consortium of Parish Councils to identify the use of the cycleway and there is a clear need to ensure it's kept open. The District Council will continue to work with the Parish and Town Councils to ensure the best outcome for all."

As the cycleway starts its transition into local ownership and management, a number of improvements have been suggested by the community partners which include new gates, fencing and some resurfacing works. These works will be funded by grants and asking local businesses and residents for donations.

If you would like to make a personal donation to improving this much loved cycle route, please send all donations marked CYCLEWAY to: David Mears, Town Clerk, Langport Town Hall, Bow Street, Langport TA10 9PR. If you would like to make a donation by bank transfer, please mark it CYCLEWAY to Langport Town Council, Acc No: 51133512, Sort code: 60 12 34