A ‘devastated’ resident has pleaded with the parish council to install a kissing gate at a Bramber crossing after her dog died on a busy road.
In an attempt to make the A283 safer to cross at the Downs Link, south of Bramber, a £77,000 scheme was launched to introduce a bridleway last year by Sussex Access Forum.
Losing Poppy so suddenly was a great shock and absolutely devastating. I am sure that if the kissing gate had not been removed, Poppy would still be aliveAlison Chapman
It is here that a popular off-road trail with a disused railway line is commonly used by dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
But since the new bridleway has been open to the public, residents have called the crossing a death trap for dogs, after a kissing gate was removed.
Upper Beeding resident Rupert Blake, who would frequently walk his dog along this scenic trail, said the new bridleway is ‘ill conceived’.
He said: “I was previously happy to walk my dogs from Beeding Bridge, south along the river bank and then into St Mary’s field where they were quite safe to run freely and meet other dogs – this was an important social amenity to dog owners in the surrounding villages.
“I no longer felt safe walking my dogs there and drove them instead to Steyning. We did however miss meeting our canine and human friends and there has been a significant diminishing of community camaraderie as a result.
“The only means of protecting dogs and their owners from being able to cross the A283 is to erect adequate fencing alongside the road to the immediate northwest and southeast of a kissing gate.”
At a Bramber Parish Council meeting on Wednesday (June 24), Mr Blake asked members if they would support his plan to install a kissing gate at the crossing of the bridleway.
In an emotional written statement addressed to the parish, Alison Chapman recounted the moment her dog Poppy was being walked by a friend along the Downs Link in February when the collie broke free and was hit by a car.
Mrs Chapman said: “I have often walked this way, and there used to be a metal kissing gate at the entrance to St Mary’s Field, and I would never let Poppy off the lead until we were through the gate. My friend did not have this option, as the gate had recently been removed.
“I feel sorry for the driver, there was nothing he could have done. It was lucky that no person was injured.
“Losing Poppy so suddenly was a great shock and absolutely devastating. I am sure that if the kissing gate had not been removed, Poppy would still be alive.
“I hope that Poppy’s death has not been in vain, and that telling her story will help to ensure that St Mary’s Field is made safe again, for other dogs and their owners.”
The parish agreed to support Mr Blake’s proposal, and advised him that the next step would be to contact West Sussex Highways. Due to personal reasons, Mr Blake told the County Times he will no longer be able to push forward this project, but hopes that what he has started will be carried forward by another passionate resident.
Mr Blake said: “Having given serious consideration to the whole issue I have reluctantly decided to step aside as co-ordinator of the project.”
Parish chairman Roger Potter said he sympathises that some dog walkers have found the crossing a danger without the kissing gate.
He said: “The parish agreed with this. However, the person who is putting forward the idea has decided to step down. We will support this if someone else can pick up the baton.”
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