VILLAGERS have launched a campaign save a footbridge that helps people access a popular part of the New Forest.

Forestry England and Hampshire County Council are holding talks on the future of the bridge, which is popular with walkers and dog owners.

The narrow structure, thought to be at least 50 years old, crosses a waterway near the end of Martin's Road, Brockenhurst.

Campaigners include Brockenhurst residents Chris and Bernadette Daniels, who said Forestry England had asked the county council to remove the bridge.

New Forest Post: Villagers have launcheFootbridge over a stream at Martin's Road, Brockenhurst.Villagers have launcheFootbridge over a stream at Martin's Road, Brockenhurst.

They added: "There has been no consultation with the residents of Brockenhurst.

"Had there been it would have become clear that the footbridge is used daily throughout the year by locals and visitors walking to Black Knowl and Bolderford Bridge.

"The route is published in New Forest guide books as an excellent walk.

"If the footbridge is removed, the only alternative crossing will be via Meerut Road near the Cloud Hotel.

"Those who use Meerut Road will be exposed to the tight and very dangerous bend which has no footpath. This would be a major accident waiting to happen.

"We understand the extreme financial pressures on budgets but decisions require a proper risk assessment and knowledgeable evaluation.

"This bridge is an essential local asset and must be retained and refurbished, not removed."

Brockenhurst parish councillors debated the issue at their annual meeting. Members said they were "disappointed" not to have been consulted before receiving a letter from the county council.

They added that the footbridge was well used by residents but acknowledged it was in a poor state of repair.

A county council spokesperson said consultations had taken place with Forestry England. The two organisations would consider "the most appropriate next steps" for the footbridge.

They added: "Further meetings are planned in the next few weeks."

A Forestry England spokesperson said: "Hampshire County Council have contacted us regarding this bridge, together with a number of others, and are keen to have discussions regarding the future maintenance of the bridges.

"We will have further information once we have spoken in detail with Hampshire County Council."