Church attendance could fall by up to a half if a closure policy is implemented, a new report warns.

A review group has recommended 13 Anglican places of worship within Brighton and Hove, including the historic St Peter's Church and All Saints Parish Church, should be closed.

More than 60 per cent of worshippers are elderly and the Brighton and Hove Older People's Council has produced a response.

Written by former Hove mayor Jim Buttimer, it says: "It is very clear that the move to another church would cause serious travel problems for many older people.

"A large proportion do not own a car and promised lifts do not always materialise. Sunday bus services are infrequent and unreliable.

"Bus routes tend to flow from the outskirts to the centre of the city and not necessarily between adjacent parishes.

"Even when an alternative church is within walking distance, there may be problems for older people.

"Inclement weather can be a deterrent. Hills seem to become steeper as the years go by and crossing major roads becomes a hazard."

There was also a deep sense of loss when older people could no longer worship at churches they had attended almost all their lives.

He said: "They fear losing touch with their friends, a feeling of isolation and that the support services the fellowship of a congregation provides would be lost.

"They also fear that with larger and more diffuse parishes, it might be harder to get spiritual support in times of crisis, bereavement, bad news and poor health."

Mr Buttimer said estimates varied as to the number of older people who would not be able to attend regularly, if at all, if their church was closed.

One churchwarden who carried out a straw poll believed the figure would be 50 per cent.

Mr Buttimer said: "It seems probable, at least in the short term, that if the review group's proposals are implemented, there will be a significant, possibly substantial, drop in church attendance generally with obvious financial implications."

Mr Buttimer got in touch with each vicar at the churches threatened with closure and asked for older people there to give him their views. They were often extremely moving.

One writer made the point it was often older people who kept churches going with their effort as well as their attendance.