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Five years ago, when my first son was born, I discovered the hidden gem in the Worthing area that is Highdown Gardens.

Since then, I have taken both my sons regularly throughout summers and winters to explore, run and learn about the plants and trees, look in the pond, and just sit and escape from the madness of ours towns and roads.

So, I am saddened and outraged to learn that Worthing Borough Council is proposing to charge for parking at Highdown Hill and Gardens. N

Numerous people enjoy and benefit from the variety of leisure activities there are to be found at the top of that beautiful hill... whether it be walking dogs, family walks with the children, meals and drinks at the Hotel and Cafe (with its very welcoming staff who greeted me and my two-year-old so nicely when we went in to sign the petition against it on Friday). Not to mention the most beautiful gardens which are so well kept by the Friends of Highdown volunteers, and are wonderful to visit at any time of the year.

Around 45 years ago, Sir Frederick Stern gifted the gardens to the care of the Council for the enjoyment of the people of the Worthing area, and so for that time people have indeed been doing that. I am sure he never had it in mind that the Council should make a profit out of it. We are so lucky to have such a beautiful place to visit, which is educational for children, and safe, too. Why should we be penalised for enjoying these gardens and our surrounding countryside with its wonderful views to the sea?

It makes me question whether the people at the council have any morals or conscience? How can they justify this, especially in this time of hardship for the average person and family?

I strongly urge all residents to pay a visit to the café to sign their petition. This is just more erosion of our freedom in this county and indeed the country. We need to make a stand; enough is enough.

Mrs M Ffowcs Williams

White Horses Way

Littlehampton