VOTE: Should the Whiphall footpath link in Midhurst remain open?

Walkers are going on the warpath in Midhurst in a bid to lift a blockade on a popular route.

The South Downs Society is organising a rally on Friday, July 8, so people can demonstrate their frustration at the closure of the Whiphill footpath link from the town centre.

The link, across Cowdray Estate farmland, enabled people to walk alongside fields from Lamberts Lane to Half Moon Corner on the Petersfield road.

The Cowdray Estate acknowledged its usage over many years by allowing it to become a permissive path, but in October it was closed by West Sussex County Council to make room for the redevelopment of Midhurst Rother College.

Graham Ault, from the South Downs Society, has condemned the closure.

He said: “It is a disgrace this path was shut off by the county council.

“They made no effort to consult the public beforehand, and they have not been willing to discuss an alternative route.”

The rally will start at 11am at the Half Moon pub on the A272 Petersfield Road to walk what is left of the path.

It is planned the group will reach the first set of barricades in the field at Whiphill at around 11.20am and then it will be forced to retrace its steps to a link to June Lane, which the society has criticised as a ‘narrow and dangerous’ road for pedestrians, to get to the town centre.

It is expected they will reach the other side of the barricades in Lamberts Lane at about 11.45am.

Mr Ault said: “We have notified the police about our demonstration because of the dangers to pedestrians from traffic on June Lane.”

The South Downs Society says it has identified an alternative route which would be safe, convenient and attractive, and which takes account of Midhurst Rother College’s security concerns.

“But the idea has been roundly rejected by West Sussex County Council and the United Learning Trust which is the academy’s sponsor,” said Jacquetta Fewster, the society’s director.

“Because of the county’s intransigence, we have begun proceedings to have the original ancient path recognised as a public right of way.”

Anyone who used the path before 1999 is urged to contact the South Downs Society on 01798 875073.

Do you think the Whiphall link should be re-opened?

Cast your vote by clicking on the link at the top right of this story.

Alternatively, email your views to letters@chiobserver.co.uk