Fishbourne cycle path safe for now

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FISHBOURNE residents anxious over plans to close Emperor Way cycle path, which runs through the grounds of the Roman palace, have had their fears assuaged for another year.

The key agreement between Fishbourne Parish Council and the trustees of the Sussex Archaeological Society was reached on Thursday, October 25, in front of an audience of 150 people.

The Sussex Archaeological Society (SAS), trustees of the historic venue, said although they had the power to close the path, they had no intention of doing so, but the future of the path would remain under review.

Tristan Bareham, chief executive of the society, asked trustees to share this statement: “The underlying situation, that the cycle paths exists only on a permissive basis and that we have to increase our offer to our visitors using our grounds, remains.”

The society said the path, which is not currently a public right of way, presents a security risk to the site and could hold back future investments in the grounds, needed for it to remain a sustainable heritage attraction.

Geoff Hand, chairman of Fishbourne parish council, said: “We’ve made a lot of progress but there is still a lot more to be achieved.”

Jaane Rowehl, director of Fishbourne Roman Palace, said they would be looking at the proposals for developing its 
range of attractions and then considering how these affected the positioning of the cycle way during the coming year.

The trustees also expressed a wish for two-way direct communication between the trustees and the parish council to continue.

They apologised for the alarm caused by talk of the closure of Emperor Way.

Cllr Hand said: “We have to be prepared for all eventualities and so, although we will be spending much of our time on fact-finding and data collection and adding our contribution to draft SAS proposals, we have to be prepared for what we would do if things went wrong.

“Over the next two to three months, the parish council task group will be collecting as much data as possible.

“Cllr Ruth Keeley and her team have already started with surveys of the number and type of users of Emperor Way and she is co-ordinating the collection of signatures for the petition.

“This information will be presented to the trustees to help ensure they make well-informed decisions.”

Fishbourne Parish Council had expressed serious concerns about the closure, with a warning that the cycle path is used by hundreds of people every day, including children and young people walking or cycling to and from Fishbourne Primary School, Bishop Luffa School and Chichester College.

Chichester city council slammed proposals to close the cycle path back in July.

At the time, Cllr Barabara Rees said she could see no possible reason why the cycle path should be a security risk.