Looking Back - 1983

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From the West Sussex County Times of Friday, August 19, 1983.

Police are to have a major clampdown on speeding motorists after nine fatal accidents in just eight months this year in the Horsham area.

“We are sick and tired of the number of accidents we have had this year. If only people had to go along to a bad accident and pick up the pieces it might just slow them down a bit and make them take more care,” said Chief Insp Dennis Care.

After commissioning a traffic management survey, Horsham police have come to the conclusion that it is speed and also poor driving at or near junctions which is responsible for many of the recent serious accidents and they intend to take action.

From September 5 for three months there will be a ‘co-ordinated effort’ to clampdown on speeding drivers in Horsham and surrounding villages.

“The irony is that the overall number of accidents in the area is down but fatal and serious accidents are up. If it had not been for the new seatbelt laws the numbers may have been higher,” said the chief inspector.

He pointed out that the sheer cost of dealing with fatal accidents, let alone the distress they cause, should encourage drivers to take more care.

The future of Horsham’s maternity unit, which has been threatened with closure in the past, is again in doubt.

The GPs who provide medical care at the 11-bed unit are to review its future at their next meeting in October.

There was a public outcry two years ago when the number of beds was cut from 18 to make room for upgraded ante-natal facilities.

Now there are fears that, with most GPs now sending mothers to Crawley and Cuckfield hospitals to have their babies, the unit might be scaled down or even closed.

One Horsham mother, whose doctor is sending her to Cuckfield Hospital to have her second child, wants to have her baby at Horsham and claims GPs are depriving mothers of the freedom of choice.

Mid Downs Health Authority district administrator Peter Catchpole stressed there were no plans to close the unit. He said that if such a move were contemplated, there would be full public consultation.

A senior Horsham GP, Dr John Dew, said he could foresee births being phased out at the unit, although his colleagues felt it still provided ‘very useful’ ante and post-natal care. He said it would be a ‘tragic loss’ if the unit were closed.

Steyning museum is on target for a September opening. The final hurdle was cleared on Tuesday when Horsham planners gave permission for the High Street site.

Unless anything hampers the final arrangements, Steyning Society hopes to open the museum doors to its first visitors some time next month.

Society president Harry Ford said builders were completing work to eradicate damp from two of the basement rooms behind the museum, and exhibits would be moved in when the problem had been overcome.

Centrepiece for the town museum will be Steyning’s town mace and constable’s staff.

Other items on display will include photographs and documents from the society’s archives, and pieces of medieval stone lent by the church.

Mr Ford said the society would like to change exhibits regularly to avoid a static display, and said it would be interested in hearing from anyone with relics of Steyning’s history.

They society is also looking for more volunteers to act as stewards for the museum. “It need only be for a morning or an afternoon a month,” said Mr Ford.

Admission to the museum will be free, although a donations box will be placed at the door to meet the cost of heating, lighting, rent and rates.