Supporting the parish young

Billingshurst Parish Council would like to respond to the open letter from Billingshurst Community Partnership that was published in the County Times on March 21. The council appreciates the well balanced and fair article that was published in the County Times on March 14.

The council also feels that response from Billingshurst Community Partnership was presented in a calm and measured manner but is concerned that some of its contents might mislead members of the public. Therefore, the council responds as follows.

In March 2008, the community partnership said it was ‘willing to work with a working group (in the same way as Jubilee Fields) to investigate a youth facility for the site of the former cricket pavilion in Station Road’.

In April 2008, the council agreed that ‘the community partnership form a working group to look into a youth facility and other purposes’.

Also in April 2008, the council agreed ‘that the pavilion site in Station Road be used for the youth facility’.

The parish council would like to point out that the EYE Project, and the community partnership’s preferred location bears little resemblance to the idea of a centralised youth facility on the footprint of the former sports pavilion as suggested in 2008.

In their open letter, the benefits of the community partnership’s preferred site were highlighted; the council feels that the same benefits would have been gained if the facility had been located on the footprint of the former sports pavilion.

The council takes exception to the implication that Billingshurst Community Partnership single-handedly delivered Jubilee Fields. The project was worked upon by a sub-committee of the parish council’s property committee, which included representation from the community partnership. It was very much a team effort, for which the council was and remains very grateful.

Jubilee Fields however was always a parish council project. A large input from the community partnership related to the fishing lake and Burnt Row Woods; these representing of course only a small part of the overall Jubilee Fields complex.

The parish council acknowledges the work undertaken by the community partnership regarding the Children and Family Centre but would remind the community partnership that the council was very much involved during the planning stages and that without the council’s support, the facility would not have been able to be provided on its current location.

The parish council acknowledges that some of the concerns it raised previously about the EYE Project were addressed by the community partnership in its suggestion of a land-swap.

However, not all councillors concerns could have been removed by the idea of a land-swap, and indeed the idea itself raised a number of additional concerns.

The parish council is answerable to its parishioners and not to the community partnership or local press. Throughout the process there have been some very strong views presented to the council by members of the public in support of the project, and its suggested location.

However, there have been some equally robust arguments presented to the council against.

The council would like to end by saying that things have changed locally and nationally a great deal in the past five years, financially of course not in a positive direction. The council remains committed to supporting the parish’s youngsters wherever possible.

It is doing so through providing well maintained open spaces and play areas, supporting our Sports Association through grant funding, the provision of an excellent skate park at Jubilee Fields, working with Horsham District Council in Junior Citizen Week, being the sole managing trustee of the Billingshurst Centre which provides facilities for a playgroup, and various clubs and activities for young people and lastly through the innovative project in partnership with Horsham District Council and some neighbouring parish councils to fund a community youth worker to work with youngsters in various locations throughout the parish.

The parish council has no desire to enter into a protracted exchange of views or comments with the community partnership in the local press.

The community partnership has published their open letter, to which the council has now responded so the council now considers the matter closed.

BEVERLEY BELL PILCM

Parish clerk, on behalf of Billingshurst Parish Council, Roman Way, Billingshurst