Readers’ letters - December 16

IT MUST be hoped that the coalition Government’s latest bid to restructure the National Health Service will be more successful than all the many other reorganisations that have gone before.

Not too many will remember this, however for 56 years between 1892 and 1948, Horsham Hospital was run by a management committee made up of notable citizens and volunteer doctors, none of whom received salaries. They did a remarkably good job too.

Civil servants given the job of organising the embryo NHS in 1948 began the new era with a strange decision to place Horsham into the Surrey health sector under the management wing of Redhill Group Hospitals.

This ignominy was endured for many years until the big reorganisation of 1974 when Horsham was returned to Sussex under the control of West Sussex Health Authority based at Goring on Sea.

This seemed a much more satisfactory state of affairs until someone decided that these authorities were too big and the county was split into districts with Horsham coming under the control of Mid Downs Health Authority based at Haywards Heath.

It was then decided that even this was too cumbersome to meet local needs and so they created Horsham and Crawley NHS Trust. Within months that proved to be too small, so they merged with our friends in Surrey again to create Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust.

This, it seems, was suitable for running the hospitals, but primary health care was not being covered properly so they introduced a brand new organisation called Horsham and Chanctonbury Primary Care Group which later became Horsham and Chanctonbury Primary Care Trust.

Without doubt Horsham and Chanctonbury PCT proved the most successful of all the modern health authorities serving the North Sussex region for it was that authority which brought an £11m improvement programme to Horsham Hospital in 2005.

Alas, they lasted only three years. Once again the health planners in Whitehall decided that these busy little PCTs who understood their local communities were too small to do the job properly and merged them all to create the new West Sussex PCT based at Goring on Sea. A splendid U-turn to the structures of 1974. But even that name did not survive long.

Where are we today? Horsham comes within the jurisdiction of a regional body called NHS South East Coast based at Horley, NHS West Sussex at Goring and the recently created Sussex Community NHS Trust which has responsibility for Horsham Hospital.

They all work in partnership with Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust which runs East Surrey Hospital and with other trusts which run mental health care and the ambulances.

Where are we going? By 2013 much of the above will have been completely dismantled and a whole new system will be run by GPs who are currently organising themselves into what are being called ‘commissioning consortia’.

Is it any surprise that many people are completely baffled as to who is actually running our health services?

The NHS and its bureaucracy is one of the great mysteries of our time.

DAVID BRIFFETT

Glendale Close, Horsham

THE WEDNESDAY December 8 meeting of Billingshurst Parish Council bore a very strong resemblance to ‘The Vicar of Dibley’.

Mr Collins, who lost a vote of confidence at a previous meeting for publicly demeaning his fellow councillors and later as demanded by his fellow councillors made an apology and then resigned, was again proposed as chairman.

Incomprehensibly he was re-elected by the votes of six councillors. Three voted for another candidate, three abstained and three who would have voted against Mr Collins were unable to attend due to ill health or work commitments.

I was one of the councillors who demanded the apology. I also would have supported the proposal that was on the agenda that he should resign which he forestalled by his resignation,

I was one of the councillors who voted against Mr Collins being re-elected at the December 8 meeting and in all honesty cannot be part of any council that can elect a councillor as chairman who can so demean his fellow councillors. I have therefore resigned from Billingshurst Parish Council.

I hope that when re-elections are held in May that the electorate remember this episode and enough alternative candidates stand in order that we have a new council.

MIKE BOBKER

Ex Billingshurst parish councillor

Rowan Drive, Billingshurst

WELL! We did not expect our Snow and Ice plans to be put to use quite so soon but it was a good ‘rehearsal’ for a repeat performance to come, or so they tell us.

Moving salt/grit from where the ‘Hippo’ bags and salt/grit bins are located can be a problem but you do only need very little of it so a bucket or wheelbarrow will suffice. Alternatively, why not club together in your street, block of flats or neighbourhood and buy a wheelie bin specifically designed to move the salt/grit. These bins come with a hopper feed at the bottom which makes accessing the salt very easy. We purchased ours from Glasdon Manufacturing at www.seatsandbenches.com .

As published in our newsletter recently a few useful tips when using the salt:

- always wear suitable gloves

- you only need about 40gms of salt per square metre to be effective

- the easiest way to distribute it is to put some on the end of a shovel and ‘flick’ it off.

- clear the snow before putting the salt down. Putting salt on top of snow will not help.

- if you walk your dog over cleared pavements and roads, wash their paws when you get home to prevent salt sores.

More useful hints and tips can be found in this months edition of ‘Your Steyning’.

As you would expect we are undertaking a careful review on what worked well and what didn’t and how we might be able to improve. We are currently working to negotiate adequate supplies and re-fills of the ‘hippo’ bags and bins and we are including a couple of new locations.

Of course, it wasn’t all gloomy. Younger residents in the Town enjoyed having the time off school and a lot were able to get out and sled and snowball to their hearts content. A word of caution on this would be that what looks like an exciting place to sled may just be an important access route for others who are less able to negotiate snow and ice i.e. roads and pavements on a hill, the slopes east and west of the Steyning Centre or any other paths where people need access.

Out on the Downlands around Steyning there are terrific and much better places for the young people to go and enjoy the snow away from traffic and residential areas.

Please continue to clear the front of your properties and help elderly and vulnerable neighbours if you can.

We are still building a list of volunteers so if you feel you would be able to assist please contact: Sue Booth, 01903 812042 or email, spcclerk@btconnect.com. Volunteering may just involve helping your immediate neighbours or co-ordinating residents in your area to clear paths etc.

I am sure that with the spirit Steyning residents have already shown we will cope with any further severe weather.

Keep warm, have fun and a very Happy Christmas to you all.

SUE ROGERS

Chairman, Steyning Parish Council

IN ANSWER to district councillor Andrew Baldwin’s allegations against me regarding Horsham Town Hall in his letter (County Times December 2) I would point out that through my representative in January 2010, I courteously informed Bill’s Produce of the intended High Court case and likely timetable in advance.

People would therefore have to look for an alternative reason as to why Bill’s pulled out. Bill’s was also not in a position to come to Horsham before spring 2011, so there was apparently no delay from the court case anyway.

The judge ruled ‘The claimant is a resident within and a council taxpayer to HDC, he is a trustee of the Blue Flash Music Trust that has used the premises in the past... he has a genuine and real interest in the use of the town hall for community purposes and to ensure due process is followed in relation to any planning decision made in relation to that use.”

Conversely, the Horsham District Council cabinet has no legitimate democratic rights over the town hall, whose operational costs have been traditionally borne by the special charge payer; those residents of the town within Forest, Denne and Trafalgar.

The councillors representing the people of those areas overwhelmingly voted against the cabinet’s restaurant seeking proposal. The three neighbourhood councils of those areas all favoured ‘community use’ also.

However, the out-of-town cabinet pushed ahead regardless; but only by denying the townspeople their democratic right to a Community Governance Review along the way.

Mr Baldwin and his cabinet colleagues consequently have as much right to say that the town hall should become a restaurant as I have of saying that Dial Post Village Hall should become a fish and chip shop. None!

ROBERT MAYFIELD

Chichester Terrace, Horsham

THE BBC is currently running TV and radio advertisements encouraging the sale of DAB radios.

So far, I have been less than enthusiastic to buy, partly for technical reasons (eg DAB is susceptible to gurgling noises and there is an increased power consumption compared to analogue radio).

However, in order to investigate DAB further, I visited the website www.ukdigitalradio.com and entered my postcode (RH13 6BQ) to see what I would receive.

The website showed two sections with ticks: green (‘you are very likely to receive these stations’ - none listed) and amber (‘you are fairly likely to receive these stations, but may need an external aerial’ - 12 listed).

I was disappointed to say the least. There was not one BBC station. Most of the commercial stations listed I can already receive well with analogue radio. In addition, I would probably have an external aerial installation as an extra cost.

If anyone in the Horsham area is thinking of buying a DAB radio, please be warned that choice and reception could be limited, and you may also have to pay for an external aerial.

STEFAN WORONIECKI

Dickins Way, Horsham