Readers’ letters - December 30

Village concerns

WE ARE pleased that some common sense has at last prevailed - at Horsham District Council’s meeting on December 15.

The adoption of the Interim Statement on the proposed developments in Billingshurst and Southwater may or may not be sound – the document is itself potentially vulnerable to legal challenge.

But what was important was that it was acknowledged that it was not possible, in the case of Southwater, to proceed as fast as the strategic planning department wished. To do so would have made a mockery of the word ‘consultation’.

We have three district councillors who represent Southwater. Only one, namely Claire Vickers, is fulfilling this role. Councillor Ian Howard has now spoken publicly in favour of the planned development on more than one occasion. He is very experienced it is true, but can he really justify his claim to know better than the people he represents?

We remain very concerned that councillor David Jenkins, and indeed the whole of the strategic planning department as well as some district councillors, have failed to grasp or do not want to acknowledge, the true nature of our opposition to their plans.

They only think in economic terms; we live in the village, we care for its character, its soul. We have just written to him to emphasise our concerns, and I quote our main points:

We are not like Billingshurst and you should not lump the issues of the two communities together.

The village is just now re-establishing itself as a community and beginning to feel comfortable with itself again after the previous major development.

Southwater has no imminent threat from developers and unplanned development - and we at Keep Southwater Green are not convinced that HDC is as vulnerable in this regard as you claim them to be.

There is no pressing need for any infrastructure now in Southwater.

You are demanding a sacrifice from Southwater to help the rest of the district avoid a housing supply problem. One could consider that this housing supply problem is actually of your own creation.

It represents the failure of exactly the policy you currently present to us as the most desirable - that of large planned development. If you depend almost entirely on this policy for your housing land supply, you are inherently vulnerable to an acute shortfall if for any reason the development falters.

A policy of multiple small developments is much less vulnerable - failure of a few will not have the same impact as the failure of one of your major schemes.

You ask this community to make this sacrifice and all you have offered us so far is the certainty that if we accept some development and some infrastructure now, further development will follow. That is why we and the village have opposed you. That is why we and the village will continue to oppose you.

Further information about Keep Southwater Green can be viewed on our website at www.keepsouthwatergreen.co.uk.

Dr IAN THWAITES

Keep Southwater Green

Marlhurst, Southwater

Tough times

BILLINGSHURST rate payers were asked in the November parish council newsletter to notify the parish council of their views in order for it to reach a decision on Friends of the Gardens’ attempt to overturn the parish council’s democratic decision.

The article did not contain a vital piece of information with regard to the £43,000 cost to Billingshurst rate payers’ money to further this project.

The project was put on hold for three years in July because of the economic situation. Six months later, with no improvement in that situation (in fact marked a deterioration), Friends of the Garden will seek at the January full council meeting to overturn the decision made in July to put the gardens on hold for three years.

In this time of great restraint for all, when county and district councils are having their funding cut to the bone, and far greater projects and facilities are being shelved or are having their funding drastically cut, should the parish council be using £43,000 of your money for a garden?

Money has been ring-fenced for this project: it is earning virtually no interest. In these times of austerity this money should be used to save your rates for vital future requirements.

The area of the project means that it will be used mainly by those living in the vicinity. It is unlikely that people will travel from all parts of the parish or other villages to use this garden area.

At the full parish council meeting in December, Ken Johnson outlined a project by the Billingshurst Partnership to ask the parish council to allow them to apply for public/community S106 money of £25,000 - approximately £500 a week for a year - to open a craft shop in Billingshurst High Street.

He said it would be let eight to 15 people have tables on which to display their products and sell their wares. The idea is to enhance the footfall into the village.

If this is allocated from public money, will other shops that are experiencing tough times come to the parish council to apply for such money?

The views of the Billingshurst rate payers on whether this is a correct use of public money would be welcome at the full parish council meeting on January 5, 2011 where this is going to be discussed.

This letter is written by me personally and constitutes my own views entirely.

C.P.H. GRIFFIN

Stane Street, Five Oaks, Billingshurst

I WRITE regarding the Station Road gardens in Billingshurst. I was at the main Billingshurst Parish Council meeting where it was decided to put this project on hold for three years and effectively ‘ring fence’ the funds held towards this project.

The decision was made taking into consideration the present economic climate in our country. I now understand that this decision has come under scrutiny and there is a possibility it may well be reversed.

I am opposed to this democratic decision being rescinded IF no further council funds have become available since that meeting which I understand is the situation.

I realise that there are so many ‘worthy ‘ causes where money could be spent. This is just one of them but others are just as deserving. However, in this economic climate our council must be seen to be husbanding our money in a sensible manner.

We have all had to tighten our belts and that has meant for most families not having all the things they would like. The same must apply for the council. It cannot just do as it wishes nor must it be seen to give in to pressure or coercion from any individuals or organisations.

Surely this will only be seen as giving a precedent to other rejected/delayed schemes. Hard decisions have to be made and carried through both locally as well as nationally however unpalatable those decisions may be.

Billingshurst Parish Council seemed to take this into account when its decision was made.

Our personal household income has been reduced this last year by some 20 per cent as have many others to a lesser or even greater extent .

Should this project be reinstated immediately, I question how the parish council will suddenly tell parishioners that they will have to pay towards this garden project. It would be an insult and morally wrong when there are members of the parish they serve who do not have enough money to properly feed and clothe their families or even to adequately heat their homes.

I think sometimes that those people who support such projects do not live in the real world. They can so easily become cocooned in the world of plenty they live in.

I would add that I think the council is doing itself no justice by acting in this way and that any actions such as this will only serve to erode the confidence and trust of the electorate should it happen.

V. WOODS

Morris Drive, Billingshurst

Fantastic support

DURING December, Billingshurst and District Lions Club once again arranged for Santa Claus to visit Billingshurst and the surrounding villages. Santa always carries plenty of sweets, so the children were delighted to see him, and people were very generous.

Despite the bad weather, total donations were almost £2,400, and I should like to thank everybody for their support. Unfortunately, the snow prevented us from reaching everybody this year, but rest assured that we will do our best to pay everybody a visit in 2011.

Special thanks are due to Harwoods of Pulborough for providing a vehicle to pull the sleigh, and to Newbridge Nurseries for supplying the Christmas tree.

The club enjoyed a busy and successful year in 2010. Our bookshop, which is our main source of income, continues to thrive, and if you want to buy or donate books we will be delighted to see you.

We held our first ever golf day in September; this raised £2,650 for the Weald School’s charity ‘Classrooms for Kenya’, and we are planning to hold another golf day in 2011. In total we donated over £60,000 to good causes during the year; over £50,000 was distributed locally, with the balance allocated to international disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods.

Our activities include plenty of social events, and if you wish to find out more don’t hesitate to telephone Alan Ridout on 01403 871370.

Once again, I should like to say a big thank you to local people for your fantastic support during 2010.

ROGER SKILLIN

President, Billingshurst and District Lions Club

Newpound,

Wisborough Green

Show goes on

I AM AFRAID even Manor Theatre’s panto fairy was unable to use her magic wand to remove the snow that caused the cancellation two hours beforehand of the three performances of Puss in Boots at North Heath Hall in Horsham on December 18.

We tried to contact the audience members before the start of perofrmance times but I’m sorry we were unable to contact everyone.

The good news is that the show is rescheduled for Sunday January 9 at a time to be agreed - details will appear shortly on our website - manortheatrehorsham.com.

Ticket holders should look on the website or contact the box office on 07771 524491 and tickets paid for already will be valid for the rescheduled date.

ROGER KIDD

Director, Puss in Boots, Manor Theatre Group

North Heath Lane, Horsham

Oxfam support

WE WOULD like to thank the Oxfam supporters who braved the snow to sing carols outside the Oxfam shop in Horsham’s Carfax on Thursday December 16.

The passers-by were muffled, with heads down against the snow, but were kind enough to donate nearly £25 for Oxfam over the half an hour that we sang. We gave up then as our carol sheets were getting very soggy with snow!

Maria, a volunteer in the shop, rewarded us with a cup of hot chocolate. The money was used to buy gifts under the Oxfam Unwrapped scheme supporting education and hygiene projects. Thank you everyone!

GILL BENCE

DOREEN WILLIAMS

South Grove, Horsham

Training madness

I AGREE entirely with Philip Circus in another Point of View on December 2 in the County Times. He ought to send it to a few papers - Times, Daily Mail - and the education hierarchy.

Nursing is a good example of where the training seems to have gone mad. One cannot learn the basic skills, the care and how to deal with emergencies and the like sitting at a desk in a university.

Listen to the students, they would much rather be on the wards working, not as extra staff just (supposedly) watching, with time included for ‘block weeks’ when only theory is taught.

In fact, a newly qualified nurse is supposed to have a mentor for some months - impossible in the present climate.

D.P. PIRKIS

Manor Close, Storrington

Thanks

THE RETIRING collection at Billingshurst Choral Society’s Christmas concert on Saturday December 11, in which the society was ably assisted by the choir from Billingshurst Primary School, raised £179 for Winston’s Wish, a charity for bereaved children.

The choral society and the charity are most grateful for the support of those who attended.

ROBERT BENTON

Hon treasurer, Billingshurst Choral Society

Coolham Road

West Chiltington