Villagers are pleading for change after “dangerous and abusive” drivers turned their parish into a “rat run”.

Residents in the quiet parish of Bremhill, between Calne and Chippenham, claim to have seen an uptick in motorists using their narrow country lanes as a shortcut to avoid traffic between the two towns.

But they, along with local police, have launched a campaign to raise awareness about driving appropriately in rural areas after local horse riders, cyclists and walkers were subjected to dangerous manoeuvres.

The Highway Code warns drivers to pass animals wide and slow, at a maximum of 10mph leaving two metres, but villagers say many drivers ignore this and are “abusive” when challenged.

One local resident and equestrian, Marian Pritchard, said: “We get a lot of aggression, people are in a hurry and use the roads as cut-throughs.

“That’s fine as long as you don’t end up killing somebody because that isn’t a shortcut it will cost you dearly.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Police and horse riders in BremhillPolice and horse riders in Bremhill (Image: Newsquest)

“I’ve been riding on roads for nearly 60 years and things have changed, nine out ten drivers will be ok but the other one will go past far too close, and some people are rude and horrible.”

Angela Jones-Moore, another local rider, is trying to raise awareness of the dangers of speeding down rural roads.

She added: “More people are using the parish because Sat-Navs push them through, but the roads aren’t meant for this traffic and everyone in the village is suffering.

“We can’t dictate where people go but they need to slow down and be respectful because there has been a spate of abuse.

“We just want everyone to be safe, you’re overtaking someone’s friend or family member so slow down for the sake of 20 seconds.”

Wiltshire Police are currently in the midst of a summer road safety campaign and officers from the Calne Neighbourhood Team are targeting those speeding or driving inappropriately through rural areas.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Police in BremhillPolice in Bremhill (Image: Newsquest)

PCSO Mark Cook said: “There is an issue in our rural communities with vehicles passing too close and too fast to horses.

“It’s a big problem and we’re encouraging vulnerable road users to report those incidents.

“It’s not just speeding it’s a general manner of driving and it’s also abusive drivers… but speeding is an issue in our villages, and we will be carrying out enforcement action.”

Any incidents of this nature should be reported via 101, the Wiltshire Police website or The British Horse Society so police can invest further resources in tackling the issue.