THE campaign to keep the North Wilts Rivers Route open has grown in the days following news it could be closed by Wiltshire Council in order to save money.

An online petition has been signed by more than 4,500 people with a lively social media campaign demanding the 16km shared use cycle and pedestrian path connecting Calne and Chippenham stay open.

Michael Bright of Chippenham Harriers said: “It’s very short sighted. With an obesity crisis we should be encouraging families to walk and cycle the route. It’s a green space which gives you time to think as you walk making it good for mental health.

“Wiltshire needs to take the long view and invest more in cycle and footpaths to encourage people to get out and about and explore the county.”

In Calne Cllr John Bouler said Wiltshire need to sort out the leases and to consult with local people. Extending the leases for a year was not the way forward he said.

Philip Whitehead, the Wiltshire Council cabinet member for finance said the council was looking into the options available in order to make it sustainable long-term.

County owns some of the land he said but there were private land owners who the council lease land from.

Until now the leases had been renewed periodically he said and the council had renewed them for the next financial year to give officers time to look at the options.

Cllr Bouler said there were four councils who also owned land the path runs through. These were Bremhill, Derry Hill and Studley plus Chippenham and Calne.

Cllr Murry, chair of the Chippenham Cycle Network Development Group, said: “If Wiltshire Council is considering withdrawing support for the route, it needs to be open about this so we can all work together to secure its long term future.”