Controversy over a walkway at a pilgrimage site in Petworth is far from over, with a meeting called by the county council to resolve the issue.
Residents have condemned the ‘desecration’ of the spring, which is believed to be a holy place of healing.
The closed meeting of town and county councillors and members of the Petworth Society has been set for early June after outcry from residents about the bridge at Virgin Mary Springs.
A spokeswoman for West Sussex County Council said the ‘sinking’ path was first raised as an issue by Petworth Town Council in 2015.
She said: “It was decided a boardwalk would be installed at the site to provide year- round access for all users.
“We regret to hear this work has caused such upset locally and are keen to resolve the matter so will shortly invite key parties to a meeting to discuss and agree on a suitable way forward.”
Readers have underlined their unhappiness about the bridge, with Chris Vincent writing that the structure was an ‘inappropriate and unnecessary addition to the landscape’.
Lucy Moore said it was a ‘ridiculous waste of money’, as ‘it will still be just as slippy and a hazard when wet as an occasional muddy patch’.
But reader Sarah Crocker said the walkway seemed a ‘sensible solution for a path that is eroding’ and the spring ‘remained untouched’.
Petworth Society chairman Peter Jerrome confirmed a meeting between county council officer Charlotte Weller and interested parties was scheduled for June 2.
He said: “I am pleased that there’s a general desire for a resolution on the issue regarding the new walkway at the Virgin Mary Springs but my personal feeling is that the strength of opinion in the town is such that there is little scope for negotiation.
“However well intentioned, the structure is unacceptable and should be removed.
“If necessary a less draconian solution might be explored.
“I hope the in future all parties concerned will show a greater awareness of Petworth’s sensitivities and traditions before embarking on an intiative of this kind.”
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