Hundreds protest against downland sell-off

Mark mark at
Sun Nov 15 22:25:30 GMT 2009

Hundreds protest against downland sell-off
Stop the Cissbury Sell-Off (SCSO)

HUNDREDS of residents have protested in Worthing against controversial
council plans to sell off downland next to Cissbury Ring.

Up to 400 people gathered at the Coombe Rise car park in Findon Valley
today (Saturday November 14) for a rally staged by campaign group Stop the
Cissbury Sell-Off (SCSO).

They then filed up on to the land itself, waving banners and placards, and
let off distress flares to draw attention to the threat.

Many then continued for a four-mile guided walk around Cissbury Ring and
the surrounding area, despite gale force winds and lashing rain.

The event was hailed as a huge success by SCSO, which has already forced
Worthing Borough Council to look again at its plans.

After the group alerted the public to the proposals, the local authority
last week announced it was going to "review" its decision to sell
agricultural land at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill.

But speakers Dave Bangs and Chris Hare from SCSO, along with Kate Ashbrook
from the Open Spaces Society, told the rally that this was not good

They want the Tory-run council to definitively withdraw plans for the sale
and instead to work with bodies like the coming National Park authority
and the National Trust to preserve and enhance the much-loved areas and to
take advantage of available environmental funding.

Said SCSO spokesman Trevor Hodgson: "There was a very strong feeling
amongst everyone there that we cannot assume the council will do the right
thing, despite the massive turnout today.

"They clearly hoped to sneak through the sale of the land without anyone
noticing and we are suspicious that this so-called review may turn out to
be just a delaying tactic.

"The speakers stressed today that it is important for everyone who cares
about the future of this land to remain vigilant in the weeks and months

"There are now a huge number of people actively involved in this campaign
and the council can be assured that we are not going away.

"We will fight on until we are completely satisfied that this crucial
piece of Worthing's
environmental and historical heritage is fully protected and secure for
generations to come."

Mr Hodgson added that there had been particular disbelief among residents
that Worthing council was trying to sell off its downland at a time when
the South Downs National Park was being given the official green light in
recognition of the importance of this unique English landscape.

Further information on the campaign, including maps of the land in
question, can be found on the SCSO website at To contact
the group email  info at

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