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Up to 400 people gathered at the Coombe Rise car park in Findon Valley today (Saturday November 14) for a rally staged by campaign group Stop the Cissbury Sell-Off (SCSO).
They then filed up on to the land itself, waving banners and placards, and let off distress flares to draw attention to the threat.
Many then continued for a four-mile guided walk around Cissbury Ring and the surrounding area, despite gale force winds and lashing rain.
The event was hailed as a huge success by SCSO, which has already forced Worthing Borough Council to look again at its plans.
After the group alerted the public to the proposals, the local authority last week announced it was going to "review" its decision to sell agricultural land at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill.
But speakers Dave Bangs and Chris Hare from SCSO, along with Kate Ashbrook from the Open Spaces Society, told the rally that this was not good enough.
They want the Tory-run council to definitively withdraw plans for the sale and instead to work with bodies like the coming National Park authority and the National Trust to preserve and enhance the much-loved areas and to take advantage of available environmental funding.
Said SCSO spokesman Trevor Hodgson: "There was a very strong feeling amongst everyone there that we cannot assume the council will do the right thing, despite the massive turnout today.
"They clearly hoped to sneak through the sale of the land without anyone noticing and we are suspicious that this so-called review may turn out to be just a delaying tactic.
"The speakers stressed today that it is important for everyone who cares about the future of this land to remain vigilant in the weeks and months ahead.
"There are now a huge number of people actively involved in this campaign and the council can be assured that we are not going away.
"We will fight on until we are completely satisfied that this crucial piece of Worthing's environmental and historical heritage is fully protected and secure for generations to come."
Mr Hodgson added that there had been particular disbelief among residents that Worthing council was trying to sell off its downland at a time when the South Downs National Park was being given the official green light in recognition of the importance of this unique English landscape.
Further information on the campaign, including maps of the land in question, can be found on the SCSO website at www.scso.co.uk. To contact the group email firstname.lastname@example.org
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