Volunteers unite to make Bramber crossing safe

Volunteers have banded together to install a kissing gate and fencing on the main road next to Bramber. Pic Steve Robards. SR1518375 SUS-151108-150531001

Volunteers have banded together to install a kissing gate and fencing on the main road next to Bramber. Pic Steve Robards. SR1518375 SUS-151108-150531001

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More than a dozen volunteers gathered in Bramber this week to install a new kissing gate and fencing following a successful resident campaign.

The West Sussex Community Rangers banded together on Tuesday (August 11), co-ordinated by West Sussex County Council, to carry out the extensive work.

This project followed an impassioned plea from a number of dog walkers who commonly use the Bramber crossing by the A283 after a dog was killed trying to cross the road.

Darren Rolfe is a senior community solutions officer for the county council who formed the Community Rangers a few years ago.

He said: “We have about 150 volunteers on a database and they live right across West Sussex and we regularly send out lists of tasks to improve the local environment.”

There were 15 rangers on the day who installed a metal kissing gate, a short section of post, sheep netting and cleared back vegetation along the road side in order to improve visibility for walkers.

Darren said: ‘‘It’s not been going on for very long. I created the team about two to three years ago, but they have proved to be absolutely essential in solving local issues.

“Soon we’ll also be turning disused flower beds in the middle of Worthing into local growing areas so people can grow their own vegetables.”

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.

It is here that a popular off-road trail is commonly used by dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

But since the new bridleway opened 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 was ‘ill conceived’.

In an emotional written statement addressed to the parish, local resident 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.

David Barling, county councillor for Bramber Castle, stepped up to the plate and contacted Darren to ask if his rangers would be up to the task.

David said: “I was delighted that this was done so efficiently and within record time. A big thank you to the volunteers.”

Stuart Hansford, of Lancing, has been a Ranger for two years and has taken part in countless projects across the county.

He said: “It was quite an achievement. It took us all of the day, we started at 9.30am and finished at 5pm.”

The 68-year-old said he joined the volunteer group after his retirement to keep himself occupied.

“I didn’t have any hobbies or interests and saw this advert and thought that looked like a worthwhile cause.”

Fellow Ranger Dennis Church, of East Preston, said the day went ‘excellently’. He joined the team three years ago to make use of his skills.

“I also do it for the experience and the community spirit,” said the 64-year-old.

Now the work is complete, Rupert said he will continue to use the trail to walk his dog.

He said: “Just walked my dogs safely in St Mary’s field for the first time in years. The volunteers did a fantastic job thanks to wonderful organisation by Darren.”

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