Preparing for further sell-offs

Your County Times Comment last week was very interesting. When I read that Horsham District Council had produced a report on how best to sweat local assets and that the Drill Hall, Horsham Museum and Capitol Theatre are possibly in line for disposal I had a slight sense of déjà vu.

It took me right back to the beginning of the Old Town Hall and Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre sagas.

This latest seems to follow the usual pattern of events. First there is the revelation in the local press; then come the denials that anything like that is actually being planned.

I expect the next step will be to use taxpayers’ money to pay (handsomely) a team (or teams) of outside ‘consultants’ to review the possibilities and come up with options and a plan for the future.

Already councillor Jonathan Chowen has paved the way by saying that there would be ‘widespread consultation and discussion in the future if proposals were framed’.

‘Oh dear!’ I thought, ‘Here we go again’.

Your Comment column concluded that, on the whole, local voters would prefer a low tax regime, even if it means sacrificing public facilities, and you asked for readers’ views.

You had based your conclusion on the fact that back in February, following the shock resignation of council leader Robert Nye, the by-election for the Itchingfield, Slinfold and Warnham ward returned a Conservative councillor, even in the midst of the row about the leisure centre.

That may be so, but if my memory serves me correctly only 27 per cent of eligible voters bothered to vote in that election. Polling day was dry and bright and it’s pretty shameful that the majority of the local populace was too apathetic to turn out to vote. I don’t think we can conclude from that that people prefer low tax to keeping public facilities.

Councillor Philip Circus touched on this in his column last week. He had high praise for our councillors, but was rather less flattering about people who do not contribute to the community, but criticise the council’s work from time to time.

He is right that we should value our councillors who give up their time to serve the local community, but I sometimes wish Mr Circus would not be quite so hard on those people who voice their firmly held views when local public facilities are under threat.

Remember his comments about ‘SIFs’ (single issue fanatics)? Perhaps he thinks that only those actively engaged in community service – or those whose views fully accord with his - should be allowed to voice an opinion.

It’s good to know he will continue in his efforts to make the work of the council more widely known, familiar and open to local people. Perhaps that way it won’t be necessary for clandestine copies of internal council reports to be pushed through the County Times’ letterbox.

SHEILA WHITE

Great Daux, Warnham