30 years ago

From the West Sussex County Times of Friday, March 4, 1983

A Dorking-based development company has bought Grants department store in Horsham which will cease trading on April 30 with a loss of 39 jobs, it has been announced.

The news comes in a bad period of jobs in the Horsham district with 45 workers made redundant at Matchless Machines and 50 recent losses at North Farm Ltd of Washington.

Speculation over the future of the town centre store in Middle Street began in September 1981.

Since then staff have gone through a traumatic period of uncertainty.

Jadepoint, a holding company, took over in February 1982, but were soon negotiating to sell to Philip Aumonier, the man behind the Broadbridge Heath bypass package deal.

A major closing down sale was organised, but by October it was clear that the deal had collapsed.

Grants’ managing director, Ray Pooley, said the store had been sold to Dorking company Chaseley Securities who planned to develop the building along the lines of planning permission granted last month.

This allows conversion into eight single shops with offices above.

Health chiefs are considering long-term plans to scrap Horsham’s Forest Hospital.

One option is to transfer some mentally handicapped to new small community units and build an 80-bed centre for those needing special care.

In the short term, facilities at Forest would be brought up to standard to accommodate people for at least two years but priority would be given to move children to a more ‘homely’ environment.

It is hoped to provide the new community units, possibly housing 24 people each in Horsham, Crawley and Burgess Hill, by 1985. Specialist handicap care would continue at Forest until the 80-bed centre was built, hopefully by 1987.

This timescale for action is set out in a draft plan of the working group set up by Mid Downs Health Authority to review mental handicap services in the district.

The group says the new 80-bed centre, which some members objected to because of a ‘danger of simply reproducing Forest Hospital’, should ideally be built on another site.

It adds: “It is not considered that upgrading any of the old buildings at Forest is a viable long-term option.”

Bramber Parish Council has decided not to press for a community-operated bus service . . . at least for the time being.

Members, at a meeting, were told of a scheme which operated in East Sussex.

But they decided such a scheme in the Chantonbury area was impractical – unless Southdown slashed rural bus services.

Councillors heard details of a community bus scheme being suggested throughout the country by the National Bus Company. It is already operated in the Cuckmere area of East Sussex.

But Bramber felt the situation in the Steyning-Bramber-Upper Beeding area was quite different to Cuckmere, where villages were tiny and scattered and public transport facilities not as generous as in east Chanctonbury.

For Southdown Motors, Mr Pratt said Southdown had found it necessary to cut back on services in the Steyning-Bramber-Upper Beeding area ‘because of poor patronage and limited financial support’.

It had not been possible to be selective in offering to discuss the draft communal bus scheme with local bodies.