Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Saturday, 14 November 2009

Protest over hill fort land sale

Protesters let off flares
Hundreds of people gathered to walk across the land and let off flares

Hundreds of people have staged a protest on land near an Iron Age hill fort in a bid to stop it being sold and keep it in public ownership.

Worthing Council has already said it has suspended the sale and will also review the decision to sell farmland near Cissbury Ring, in West Sussex.

The council said the review was because of public concern about the site.

The South Downs Society said it was a famous archaeological site that needed to remain in public ownership.

The group, Stop the Cissbury Sell-Off (SCSO), said about 400 people gathered for the rally and walked across the land in question, letting off flares.

SCSO spokesman Trevor Hodgson said there was strong feeling and a "massive turnout" by people who had vowed to fight on until the land was fully protected for generations to come.

Cissbury Ring cannot survive properly on its own
Steve Ankers

Worthing Council said the decision to sell two parcels of agricultural land, 57 and 132 acres in size, was taken following the death of the former tenant farmer.

The council said the review would consider fresh options and talks would be held with the South Downs Joint Committee and the National Trust.

Mr Waight said: "Because the decision was made a year ago and because of public concern, we feel it right to review the decision made over a year ago in order to make sure we take everything into account before a final decision is made."

Spokesman for the South Downs Society, Steve Ankers, welcomed the move but called for a permanent halt to the sale.

He said: "It is essential that this important site remains in public ownership. Cissbury Ring cannot survive properly on its own."

He added: "If it was sold, it could end up being fenced off into unsightly paddocks with no access for the public."

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South Downs becomes national park
12 Nov 09 |  Sussex

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