BINSTED STRAWBERRY FAIR 2017

Binsted Strawberry Fair, a traditional country fair, celebrates its 30th year this year on Sunday 23rd July.  Go along to support this unique charity fundraising event, – see events and activities below – all the more important this year as Highways England begins its public consultation on the route of an A27 bypass of Arundel. One possible route would destroy the very fields and woodlands that the fair takes place on. Binsted’s fate is very much bound to that of Tortington’s so come along and enjoy this day in the countryside.

bin straw 2017

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Macbeth at Tortington Church

macbeth sm

Churches Conservation Trust and Friends of Tortington Church welcome back Sussex theatre company ‘This Is My Theatre’ for their adaption of Shakespeare’s ‘MACBETH’ THURSDAY 27th JULY at 7.30pm

Using the original language in combination with traditional Celtic music played live, choral song and modern characterisation, this beautiful one-act adaptation will captivate audiences of all ages.

www.thisismytheatre.co.uk for details and advance booking or tickets on the door £12.50 or £10 for Friends of Tortington Church

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Woodland Guided Walk

The much talked about ‘pink-blue route’ is, environmentally, the most damaging of the routes likely to be discussed at the forthcoming Highways England public consultation.

Arundel SCATE (South Coast Alliance for Transport and Environment) are leading a guided walk ‘Discovering Tortington Common Woods’ on the path of the route. If you want to see the great swathe of the English countryside that would be swept away if this route was selected, please come on the walk – while it is still there for us to enjoy!

SCATE walk

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Binsted Arts Festival 2017

Another fantastic programme from the organizers of Binsted Arts Festival – right on Tortington’s doorstep! Note the dates and go to their web site for booking information.

BAF2017

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The Belles, the Belles…

…are everywhere in Tortington woods at the moment! Although I’m a bit late posting this photograph, if you haven’t already been there, if you go down in the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise – no there won’t be many Teddy Bears gadding about but there are still great carpets of native bluebelles to delight and inspire. A mobile phone doesn’t do this sight justice but here is a glimpse of ancient woodland at its most beautiful. Enjoy it while it is still there – or lend your voice to the campaign to preserve it!

bluebells dark

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PLANT SALE!!!!!!

Once again the Friends of Tortington Church are fund-raising with their now famous PLANT SALE! Details below.

plant sale 2017

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Talk on garden mammals

Here are the details of a talk at the Arundel Wetlands Centre by Dr Dawn Scott of MAVES (Mid-Arun Valley Environmental Survey) in association with Arundel Agenda 21 and hosted by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Garden birds seem to get all the attention – and the free meals! – but this is an opportunity for Tortington nature lovers to hear all about the MAMMALS that visit our gardens – and believe me, its not just next door’s cat!

mammals

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Chichester A27 works cancelled

The following statement was released by Highways England on 1st March 2017:

HIGHWAYS ENGLAND UPDATES
A27 Chichester Improvement

The A27 Chichester Bypass improvements scheme – 1 March 2017

On 28 February 2017, the Secretary of State wrote to Highways England instructing us to stop work on the A27 Chichester Bypass major improvement scheme.

*Message from Jim O’Sullivan, Highways England chief executive.
“We are grateful to everyone who took the time to engage with our consultation last summer on improving the A27 through Chichester. ”

“We are obviously disappointed at this decision as the improvement would have brought significant strategic benefits to the region. ”

“But any improvement had to be right for Chichester and there was no overall consensus. We will continue to work with partners to monitor the routes performance and to carry out any short term measures we can to help road users, the local community and the region.”

We will be publishing the consultation report and the executive summary of the scheme assessment reporton the website [ http://roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a27-chichester/ ] in due course.

The implications for the Arundel road improvement plans are as yet unclear though Chris Grayling has stated that the work will proceed. Concerns have been raised though about the implications of faster through traffic on this part of the A27 from the west towards Chichester, with the possibility of even greater congestion at those pinch points in the future. We will publish further bulletins from Highways England as and when we receive them.

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Highways England mail-shot

It would appear that Highways England are unaware of the considerable interest that there is in Tortington with regard to the proposed A27 bypass near Arundel. A letter was sent to some local residents – we are only aware of those in the town actually receiving them – outlining the timetable for the public consultation on these road improvements. Having spoken to no more than a dozen or so Tortington residents, there may well have been letters sent to Tortington, but so far none spoken to are aware of this communication. Find below a reproduction of this letter, dated February 2017:

HE letter to residents Feb2017

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A WALK along the pink-blue route

On Sunday (23rd October) local residents’ group ‘Arundel SCATE’ (South Coast Alliance for Transport and Environment) organized a walk through Arundel Parish along as much of the proposed bypass pink-blue route as public access would allow. The route however did allow those taking part to view, from public rights of way, the large part of the parish, mainly in Tortington, which would be severed by any road which might be built. It also enabled walkers to get a clearer idea of just how much diverse and species-rich marshland, farmland and woodland would be destroyed by the bypass on this route.

composite-image

Proceeding south along the riverbank, poles with flags gave some indication of the 30 metre wide dual carriageway and its possible height above the surrounding valley – the carriageway we are told would have to cross the Arun Valley and a stretch of the countryside beyond on stilts. At this point it became evident that not only was this a large turnout of some 70 people, mainly Arundel and Tortington residents but some from as far away as Worthing, but that it was not confined to those who supported less damaging road improvements in the Arun Valley but some who were very much in favour of the pink-blue route at any cost, whether to the environment or the exchequer. This was a most welcome mixture of opinion and perspective.

The Chief Executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, Tony Whitbread, then gave the assembled walkers the first of three short but informative talks about the habitats and wildlife species which would be further endangered and in some cases totally wiped out in the Arun Valley by a new road. Onward to Priory Lane and around the former 12th century Tortington Priory before cutting across to Tortington Lane where Tony Whitbread gave a short talk on ancient woodland and the importance of various tree species – I’m told not one tree was hugged though I’m sure many were tempted! It was at this point that we crossed into Tortington Common – a large area of woodland actually and not very ‘common’ at all!

noor-wood

The woodland edge here also marks the boundary of the South Downs National Park and once into Tortington woods we had an easy walk on the recently re-surfaced path until a scheduled deviation off the public path brought us all a very pleasant surprise. We were taken into Noor Wood, 4.5 acres of woodland owned by Julie and Tony Upson who provided walkers with tea, biscuits and  ‘comfort’ facilities. Julie told us about the work they were doing managing this woodland and restoring, amongst other native species, the elusive Hazel dormouse, now a European protected species. There are 55 nesting boxes in the woods and they are monitored monthly with the results being reported to the People’s Trust for Endangered Species and to MAVES (see below). Julie and Tony are also currently working with a number of charities, including MIND, to establish the wood as a site for the promotion of health & wellbeing.

The talk here in Noor Wood was given by Julia Plumstead, Chair of MAVES (Mid-Arun Valley Environment Survey) and local naturalist Ian Powell who told us of the important work MAVES was doing monitoring populations of rare bats, dormice, owls and butterflies, including one of only 7 colonies of a rare bat species in the UK.

Suitably refreshed we bade farewell to Julie and Tony and after another pleasant woodland walk made our way out of the woods and eventually emerged near the top of Torton Hill – can Arundel really have this rural idyll on its doorstep someone asked! ‘Tortington actually’, I heard someone else reply.

Now it was quite literally all downhill and back to our starting point in Arundel. A good walk through what everyone agreed was beautiful countryside – yes everyone! – very informative and for some, a first venture into the rural bit of Arundel!

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