The controversial cycling event Velo South, which has caused an outcry across the Midhurst and Petworth area, is facing a new threat, after a major legal challenge from angry residents.
They have joined forces to try and stop the event, which many claim will leave them marooned in their homes on Sunday, September 23, due to the many road closures.
Among those worst affected are Milland, which residents say will be ‘sliced in half’, Fernhurst, where the A286 will be closed, Rogate, where there will be traffic lights on the A272, and the Harting area.
Villagers have cancelled events, churches have been left marooned and those needing to get to work along the route say they will struggle.
There is fury Velo, organised by CSM, was given the go-ahead by West Sussex County Council (WSCC) without any public consultation on the decision, but so far attempts to have it cancelled have failed.
Now the five residents have instructed solicitors who have written a ‘pre-action letter’ to WSCC chairman Lionel Barnard warning if the road closure orders are made, a legal challenge will follow. This includes ‘an urgent application for interim relief prohibiting the event from taking place, pending the final determination of the proceedings’.
The solicitors’ letter further warns: “As such, any additional costs incurred by either WSCC or CSM towards the preparation of the event is now entirely at your own risk.”
A spokesman for WSCC said: “On Friday, August 31, the county council received a letter from lawyers instructed by five residents. The letter makes a number of claims on behalf of those individuals about the procedure and arrangements for enabling road closures in connection with the proposed Velo South cycle event.
“The county council will, in accordance with the formal process in which the letter has been sent, consider its content and provide a full response to the lawyers as required.
“Given that such a formal legal process has now been commenced it will not be appropriate for the council to comment further on the letter at this stage.”
Rogate villagers are being asked to document the impact – both good and bad – ‘so we can determine whether the suggested benefits really do outweigh the costs’, said parish council chairman Steve Williamson.