CONTROVERSIAL tax-payer supported donkey rides will go ahead following fierce debate.

At the end of January Ongar Town Councillors voted to spend £600 on donkey rides on the nature reserve at the end of the high street.

Despite Ongar's previous involvement with donkeys - residents having longed grazed the animals on the northern side of Crispey Brook - and the rides' low £1 cost, opposition to the scheme was fierce.

As well as the concern's of residents, Epping Forest Countrycare submitted evidence to the council which led to the issue being re-tabled at a planning and environment, open spaces and public relations committee.

At the time Aimi Middlehurst, town clerk, said: "Epping Forest Countrycare felt that an event of this kind could have a negative impact on the nature reserve.

"The donkey hoofs could damage the soil and the flora.

"If it is wet it could get chewed up."

In the end the council found in favour of the donkey rides for a second time.

The first opportunity to hop on takes place on May 6, with one ride costing £3 and two rides £5.