Residents signed up for the committee at a public meeting held at The Kings School, on 18 October, chaired by teacher, Jo Elliott.
The meeting, to talk through what needed to take place to construct the cycleway, was attended by around 70 residents, keen to find out what was involved.
Prior to the meeting, myself and Cllr Roger Giles were inundated with messages of support from residents, as well as from:
– Neil Parish MP
– Hugo Swire MP
– Local primary schools, including West Hill, Feniton, Tipton and Payhembury
– Local councils, including Ottery St Mary and Feniton
– West Hill Residents Association
The meeting kicked off with an excellent series of short presentations from students, who gave their own views about why a cycleway would be great for Ottery and the villages.
Residents then heard a speech from Peter Grainger, from cycling charity Sustrans, who explained about the process and said that although it would be expensive – perhaps between £1 and £2 million for the first section, there was funding available.
Richard Foord, currently working to achieve the Culm Valley Cycleway, told residents it was ‘really impressive’ that Kings School students had kicked off the campaign.
Some of the landowners present expressed concern about the impact on their livestock and their land. One landowner suggested that the roads be made more suitable for cyclists instead.
In reply, one of the students, Jack Roberts, pointed out that students do try and cycle along the roads but they were dangerous and a cycleway was needed for a safe route to school, as much as it was needed for a day out.
Cllr Roger Giles emphasised that it wouldn’t be cheap and it wouldn’t be easy. He said: “It will be difficult and expensive and take a long time to achieve, but there is a lot of support.”
Kings teacher, Jason Wood spoke about how a cycleway would mean training opportunities for young cyclists and children with disabilities.
The first committee meeting will take place before Christmas.
Photograph: Kings School students, pictured with teacher, Jo Elliott (centre), Roger Giles, Michael Brittain and Peter Grainger.