Pound signs clocking up

WHAT a pity Chris Dier retired in 2010. If he had still been in post now, perhaps the local community would have been spared the long, drawn-out anguish of watching councillors and officers at Horsham District Council trying to make money out of our much-loved Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.

Let’s make no mistake about the motives behind all this. They are not to ‘maintain the excellent range, quality and value of our leisure services’ (to quote from the council’s own District Plan for 2011-2015), but to make as much capital gain as possible from the sale of that area of land at Broadbridge Heath they refer to as ‘The Quadrant’.

Do they really think this will ‘promote a better quality of life’ (I quote again from their ‘plan’)?

As Mr Dier so rightly indicated in his letter last week, Jonathan Chowen, aided and abetted by the current director of community services, is offering the local community nothing more than what is required for the extra housing being built at Broadbridge Heath.

The existing residents are expected to try to fit into the odd gaps at other facilities dotted about the district (and beyond). This just won’t do. At a recent meeting councillor Andrew Baldwin expressed the view that athletes who currently use the running track at Broadbridge Heath could easily go over to Crawley for their training.

“I don’t think it’s too much hardship to drive to Crawley. Six miles is nothing,” he said. He’s the cabinet member for the environment; the last person you’d think would encourage extra journeys to and from another venue.

And what of those who don’t possess a car? Mr Baldwin sounds a bit like Horsham MP Francis Maude who assumed everyone had a garage in which to store their jerry cans of fuel. Still, common sense and a feel for the needs of the local community go out of the window when the pound signs are clocking up.

The pared-down four options being offered to the local community in the ‘consultation period’ are totally unacceptable. Not one comes close to providing like-for-like facilities. I hope local people will make their feelings known and tell this council they must try harder.

We will not be fobbed off with a ‘dumbed down’ version of our leisure centre.

SHEILA WHITE

Great Daux, Warnham