Local resident Mike Brayshaw and his wife enjoy walking in the woodland at Hill Barn Golf Course and have done so since 1972. But recently the Golf Club has erected signs closing off the area in an attempt to deny access.
Mr & Mrs Brayshaw are not amused.
The Golf Club says the action was taken in response to a request from the police following anti-social behaviour to the area but Mr Brayshaw is not placated.
Mr Brayshaw said: “I have to accept there have been problems, but I think the Golf Club attempting to close it off from the public is out of order …. at what point do the Club’s actions become anti-social?”
“I suggest the best way to cut down antisocial behaviour would be to encourage the public to use it. Most of us are responsible, treasure that woodland, and having been involved in planting it up have a sense of loyalty and concern towards its wellbeing, and would be a restraining influence if only by our presence. The Golf Club actions are likely merely to give free rein to the irresponsible element that they seek to exclude.”
Worthing Daily contacted Hill Barn Golf Club for their comments and the owner of the club responded.
The owner said: “This land is private land and has no footpaths across it and no public right of way. Access to the South Downs and Cissbury Ring is via a well-used and sign posted bridle path to the east of this woodland.
“In recent years we have experienced many episodes of antisocial behaviour in the woods and the local residents call out the police on a regular basis.”
The Hill Barn Golf Club went on to say they had received only one complaint. But local green group Worthing Downlanders have also expressed their dismay at the action.
Downlanders’ spokesman Trevor Hodges said: “We are disturbed by this attempt to exclude the Worthing public from a pleasant and popular woodland area, which is well used by walkers heading into the South Downs National Park and Cissbury Ring.
“Given that there has been unrestricted access to this site for at least 40 years, it seems inappropriate to suddenly try and block it off without any public consultation or information.”
The woodland is within the boundaries of the new South Downs National Park but when Worthing Daily contacted the Authority they were unaware of the issue.
A spokesperson for the South Downs National Park Authority said: “We will be having discussions with the local community, police and golf course to better understand the issues, and how they may be resolved”.
The woodland is in the south-east corner of Hill Barn Golf Club, immediately north of the north-eastern end of Hill Barn Lane. Part of the area is old (but presumably not ancient) woodland, and part known as the Millennium Wood. The planting of the southern end was organised by Worthing Borough Council and planted by local volunteers in 2000, and has subsequently been extended northwards annually and maintained by the Woodland Trust, again with local volunteers.