Bridge is vital for city says community leader

THE need for a footbridge across the A27 is an issue which affects more than just the homeless, a prominent member of a Chichester community has said.

Steve Taylor, co-chairman of the Whyke Estate Community Association (WECA), has said there is a ‘large amount of enthusiasm’ from residents on the estate to be able to visit the countryside south of the A27 – something that would be made safer if they could cross the dual carriageway on a bridge.

WECA held a meeting on Monday evening where much discussion was had about whether a footbridge should be built across the A27 at the Whyke Roundabout.

Voices in favour of the plan have grown louder since the deaths of three homeless men in the past two months who have died crossing the stretch between that roundabout and the Stockbridge roundabout.

But Mr Taylor feels the footbridge is needed for the wider community, not just the homeless population who make their way across the roundabout to the St Joseph’s Nightshelter in Hunston.

“The general feeling is still very much that we would support a footbridge being here.

“A lot of the comments so far seem to be focusing on the needs of the people using St Joseph’s with what’s gone on – that’s a huge issue. Actually also people on the estate have a huge amount of enthusiasm for the access it would give us to the large area of nature reserves around the lakes and also south of Chichester.

“The school would be keen on having that access as well. It’s a wider community issue.”

He echoed the calls of Chichester District Councillor Pam Dignum in last week’s Observer that a meeting should take place between the authorities involved.

“I think something definitely needs to happen, it’s a priority issue for the whole of Chichester and particularly for the community in the area close to the A27.

“We are hoping the district council and city council and other authorities in Chichester will be putting pressure on them.

“We would be totally behind that and would be keen to be involved.”

Also discussed at the meeting was the increasing number of rough sleepers on the estate which has been causing problems, particularly near the garage site behind Exton Road, and Bramber Road.

“We have large numbers of rough sleepers who are drinking during the night on the estate and in particular near the garage site,” he said.

“It has become a real problem area with anti-social behaviour from people who are rough sleepers.

“There are some young people who on the way to school have suffered abuse and coming back they have felt very unsafe and threatened.”

The garage site is where WECA is hoping to build a community centre for the estate, which will be discussed at a public meeting at Kingsham Primary School, at 7pm on April 16.

“The community association is looking to see whether this would be an appropriate site to start a project to build a community centre on,” said Mr Taylor.

“We are having a public meeting on April 16 to put forward the proposals of supporting developing a community centre on that site.”