30 years ago

FROM the West Sussex County Times of Friday, March 27, 1981.

THE FIRST in what promises to be a succession of lengthy petitions to save Horsham’s ABC cinema, was handed to Horsham District Council.

The petition, started by the staff of the cinema in North Street, and bearing a few thousand signatures, was presented to the director of planning, Tony Jones, at Chennells House.

It is a plea from the hearts of the 15 staff, who face redundancy if the cinema is turned into a bingo hall as threatened.

The cinema’s owners, Thorn-EMI, are considering selling the building to someone who wants to do just that – which would mean two bingo halls in one town and no cinema.

The ABC staff are desperate for Horsham to keep its only cinema and their simply worded petition - ‘save our cinema from becoming a bingo hall’ has attracted a great deal of support.

Some people feel that the ABC is already doomed, bearing in mind the ineffectiveness of the protests over the Odeon when it was similarly threatened ten years ago.

But others are more hopeful and are busily collecting signatures to present to Horsham District Council before the next planning committee meeting.

“If the council say no to a bingo hall, then we were told that the cinema would be kept and possibly twinned,” said Coral Richardson, one of the staff.

Mrs Richardson and her colleagues are pinning their hopes on the sympathies of the council and urging other interested parties to do the same.

THE NATIONAL recession is having a ‘significant’ impact on firms throughout West Sussex with many companies shedding jobs.

However, many firms, particularly in Horsham, are finding quite a different nightmare: a serious lack of skilled workers to fill vacant jobs.

Those are two of the conclusions reached in a special survey carried out among employers in the county during 1980 by West Sussex County Council planning department.

The survey was conducted during November and covered firms in the manufacturing, construction, wholesale distribution and business services sectors.

All larger firms were approached and a 20 per cent sample of smaller firms, excluding those employing less than three people. There was a 70 per cent response, which the county described as extremely good.

During the year, 22 per cent of firms increased their staff, 38 per cent showed no change and 40 per cent decreased employees.

Among the job losses, 80 per cent were in engineering firms and nearly half of the loss was entirely due to Crawley-based firms.

“This is largely a reflection of the importance of employment in engineering and concentration in Crawley, but also engineering firms appear to have suffered a great proportional loss in jobs than those in most other sectors,” says the report.

Horsham and Mid Sussex suffered the lowest job losses, with Adur and Arun district the highest.

WARNING that Storrington is in danger of losing its proposed health centre came from West Sussex county councillor Peter Shepherd.

“The money is there and the health centre is expected to be built by 1982,” said Mr Shepherd.

“But if some decision about a site isn’t reached soon, we will lose it to another area.” The alarm was sounded during a debate at the village parish council meeting.

Site negotiations between Horsham District Council’s planning office and West Sussex Area Health Authority have been delayed because of the prospect of losing valuable car parking space.

The health authority’s proposal to site the centre at North Street, with access from Ryecroft Lane, has been criticised because of inadequate access and because the council plan to extend the North Street car park into the nearby field.