The iconic Baedeker’s Guide to Great Britain of 1937 describes Horsham as being, ‘Situated 38 miles from London - a pleasant old market town with a population of 13,600 inhabitants’.
It also lists a number of hotels and schools. Our neighbouring town of Crawley hardly warrants a mention with Gatwick - then a racecourse - located in Surrey. How times have changed during the ensuing 80 years!
The distinctive regional Sussex accent of my childhood is now a rarity - replaced by that of south London.
This is not to suggest that newcomers to our town are not welcome.
Who can blame them for leaving the capital for the attractions of a semi-rural townscape with good rail connections (when not on strike!) to London and the coast. That is providing that the necessary infrastructure in terms of schools and medical facilities are in place first.
Here I suggest that Horsham and Crawley - or ‘Crawsham’ as will be known - is destined to become an unplanned Milton Keynes of the South-East - an unattractive urban sprawl with little or no character.
But doubtless local estate agents will continue to refer to the area as ‘a prosperous Sussex market town’ - come what may.
Ex-GP and Lib-Dem district councillor, David Skipp highlights the very real problems we face in the most excellent article in the County Times of January 19th.
How right he is. For example, it is not unheard of to wait three weeks or more for an appointment with one’s designated GP at the Park Surgery.
With no less than five GP surgeries in the town - most of which refer patients to either East Surrey or Crawley hospitals - it would be helpful for Metrobus to provide a direct service to Redhill via Crawley to cater for elderly patients and their visitors.
After all, our former MP - Francis Maude - did lobby extensively for a new hospital to be located at Pease Pottage - but clearly our cash-strapped NHS will not allow for such an ambitious and costly project in the foreseeable future.
So the question remains as to whether there is any meaningful communication between the health and education authorities and our district council - and most of all the developers who seek to cram as many houses into a limited space - with gardens the size of a pocket handkerchief - without a thought for the consequences.
Add to this Margaret Thatcher’s short-term election winner of selling off our council houses at bargain basement prices and we have a depletion in our affordable housing stock.
Our aspiring younger first-time buyers will not thank Mrs Thatcher for that.
As in so many areas of modern life, we are witnessing a serious generational rift. And that does not bode well for the future.
Hopefully, our elected councillors will put petty party politics aside and attempt to tackle this ongoing problem together - as a matter of urgency!
Robert B. Worley
Bourns Court, Ayshe Court Drive, Horsham
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