COMMENT: Guilty consciences after council’s ground promise?

Horsham Football Club's 2014 proposal for a new clubhouse and ground at Hop Oast - artists's impression of the view from the balcony - picture submitted by Horsham Football Club SUS-150121-131807001

Horsham Football Club's 2014 proposal for a new clubhouse and ground at Hop Oast - artists's impression of the view from the balcony - picture submitted by Horsham Football Club SUS-150121-131807001

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With Horsham Football Club still weighing up their next move in hope of finding a new home, I wonder if certain members of Horsham District Council, past and present, are nursing a guilty conscience?

Anyone reading this will no doubt be aware of the Hornets’ plight for a new modest home at Hop Oast.

Councillors themselves seem to have had shorter memories

And it is modest. It’s not a stadium, it’s a ground; and it’s proposed for a site that is opposite a rubbish tip, an over-sized car park and petrol garage, upon part of an unused golf course and next to one of the busiest roads in the area.

With all that in mind, the site was deemed unsuitable for a number of bizarre reasons.

The size of the clubhouse was questioned, the fact it would be urbanising the country side - which is almost laughable considering current development in the town - and of course, that it would cause a considerable danger to the club’s keen army of cyclists, who arrive for each game on a fleet of push bikes.

Disturbing local equestrian activity was also raised as an issue - obviously these nearby horses have never been disturbed by the millions of vehicles that silently creep up the A24 each year!

The decision to refuse the ground has sparked huge interest and the club has received a staggering amount of support – plenty of which has been published within our letters pages.

But has it been forgotten that the council categorically signalled to Horsham Football Club all those years ago that if it released its Queen Street ground for housing they would help find them a new home in the town?

The club put its faith in the council - yet despite many flurries of hope remains bitterly disappointed.

Those many hopes have ranged from sites in just about every corner of Horsham all of them explored by the club in good faith and in the belief that the town and district would really benefit from keeping a great club like theirs at the heart of local life.

Council officers appear to have behaved honourably throughout – but councillors themselves seem to have had shorter memories.

If the club do opt to appeal the decision, they will stand a good chance of having the decision over-turned. Certainly Hop Oast is a much better location than fobbing them off with North Horsham.

But shame on the council for backing the NIMBYs against the club.

The Hornets are a great asset – and we should cherish rather than chastise them.