30 years ago

From the West Sussex County of Friday, November 26, 1982

War games came to Horsham on Sunday – and most of the population carried on as normal, unaware of the ‘holocaust’.

Little did people know that, as they sat down to the Sunday roast or the weekly wade through the colour supplements, hypothetical nuclear bombs were going off all around them.

And in a radiation-proofed building off Denne Road, 120 people were assimilating and disseminating information about the size and type of explosions and the extent of danger from radio-active fallout.

If a nuclear attack were to occur, Horsham would be a key location in our national civil defence.

Britain is divided, for civil defence purposes, into five sectors and Horsham is the nerve centre of the Metropolitan sector, covering most of London and the home counties with a population of over 17m.

Three times a year there is a full-scale exercise to put the country’s civil defence communications network through its paces and for Horsham, Sunday’s exercise was of special importance because it was attended by a VIP visitor.

Patrick Mayhew, QC, Minister of State at the Home Office with responsibility for civil defence, spent Sunday seeing for himself how communications worked in a staged emergency.

Thirty years ago West Sussex County Council saw the need for a Southwater bypass to relieve congestion and to lessen the danger for people using the village’s main street. Next week both goals will be fulfilled when the bypass opens to traffic.

Five months ahead of schedule, the developers have left the site of the £4.1m scheme, due to be opened at 11am on December 1.

Hundreds of tons of earth, thousands of metres of pipes and over two miles of Tarmac have been laid to complete the two and a half miles of road for which villagers have fought long and hard.

Tony Lardner, chairman of Southwater Parish Council, sees Wednesday’s bypass opening as the closing of a chapter in the fight which began in the 1950s. It would undoubtedly remove the danger to people using the main road through Southwater and would, he estimated, take at least three-quarters of the traffic out of the village.

But with the closing of the bypass chapter, a new one opened in a battle to get community facilities which the Southwater people deserved, said Mr Lardner.

He expected the recent Gatwick expansion decision would mean that in the next ten years, the village’s population would double and so among other things a community centre and larger medical facilities were needed.

Investigation squads set up by Seeboard are aiming to track down meter fiddlers in the Chanctonbury area.

The investigators are looking out for meters which have been tampered with and informing police.

“The racket is mounting,” said Peter Bates of Henfield, Seeboard’s SW Sussex district administrative officer. “Our fraud investigation teams have been set up to seek to ensure that this pillaging is brought to an end.”