Pattern of decline

I AM A relative newcomer to Horsham but am happy to agree with the comments of those of longer standing, that Horsham is indeed a nice place to live.

Surrounded by beautiful countryside, populated by friendly people, benefiting from a low crime rate and well located in terms of access to larger commercial centres and the coast, it is, in many respects, deserving of its reputation as one of the nicest places to live in the country.

I do find slightly irritating, however, the inclination of our councillors to make constant reference to the accolade awarded to Horsham in 2006 as some kind of indication of the quality of the performance of our council.

Let’s be clear, the Halifax Quality of Life award that they refer to is primarily a marketing tool devised by those with a vested interest in selling homes.

To that extent it has been hugely successful in keeping the housing market in Horsham buoyant and drawing queues of developers to the doors of the council’s planning department.

Those towns receiving a high rating in this competition are those where employment levels amongst residents are high, where there are good schools and good transport links and low crime levels. None of these criteria relate to anything delivered by our local council!

Our council could make a contribution to making Horsham a top place to live but it would need to work a whole lot harder in relation to service delivery than it is currently doing.

Our streets could definitely be cleaner. At the moment the council undertakes to sweep our residential streets once every four months, far less frequently than many other councils. As a result our gutters and grass verges are lined with litter and detritus for most of the time.

Any councillor eager to describe neighbouring towns as squalid should perhaps first take a closer look at these streets and, for that matter, at some parts of our own town centre.

The council car park in Piries Place is a disgrace, not only are the stairwells foul smelling and filthy but both lifts remained out of order for well over two weeks recently.

This council facility would hardly contribute to the exclusive shopping experience that one of our cabinet members recently claimed to aspire to for Horsham residents and visitors.

Public assets are poorly maintained, with an inevitable pattern of a fall into disrepair and a resultant decision to dispose of them altogether. Valued public services are constantly cut back until they are almost non-existent.

Crawley may not have the attributes of an historic market town but the work done over many years by successive Labour councils in that town has assured that residents can access a quality theatre and cinema experience, fantastic leisure facilities and good shopping.

Our councillors should be less inclined to criticise and more inclined to look to Crawley as an example of what a council with vision can achieve.

Isn’t it about time that Horsham councillors shook off the complacency that they have slumped in to on the back of Horsham in Bloom and the Quality of Life award and made a bit more effort on behalf of the council tax payers they represent?

CAROL HAYTON

Horsham Labour Party

Clarence Road

Horsham