LETTER: Enjoy ancient woodland

The cancellation of the road improvements planned for the A27 at Chichester, in sending a nervous shiver through the Town Hall at Arundel have prompted the mayor, councillor James Stewart (Littlehampton Gazette, March 9), to once again repeat those two old untruths – that there is no ‘village’ and no ‘ancient woodland’ in the path of the ‘pink-blue’ route across the Arun Valley which his council supports – though not unanimously – for an Arundel Bypass.

But I notice councillor Stewart dares not speak the name of Tortington, the community he seeks to sever from the rest of Arundel.

And by repeating, without any qualification whatsoever, the untruth that Tortington Common is not ancient woodland, he and his supporters seek to remove an obstacle to their hoped-for bypass.

What cannot be denied is the existence of a village and a community called Tortington, slap bang in the path of this ‘pink-blue’ route.

It may not conform to councillor Stewart’s Midsomer-esque image of the English village but Tortington, first recorded in Domesday Book, is still very much a part of this ancient landscape largely unchanged since the Norman Conquest and we deserve some acknowledgement of that fact from the elected officials and officers in whose constituency we reside and pay taxes.

The ‘severance’ that they claim to be concerned about clearly does not extend to the residents of Tortington. If councillor Stewart does not want to get his feet wet in the fields and woods of Tortington I can only refer him to our nod to modernity, Tortington Local Community website at www.tortington.org.uk or urge him to catch up on the history of this peaceful rural enclave at Wikipedia. He may learn something about the whole of the community that he represents.

On the matter of ancient woodland I can only refer councillor Stewart to the scientific community for an explanation.

The Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre published a report in January, 2010, making it very clear that Tortington Common is indeed ancient woodland.

Before the public consultation takes place this summer – Tortington residents were not included in Highways England’s mail-shot in February outlining the timetable – I urge the mayor, the Town Council, Nick Herbert MP and all the others who would deny our existence to take the time to get out in the open air and enjoy the countryside, the woodland and the wildlife here in Tortington.

John Henderson

Tortington Lane

Arundel

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