COMMENT: Time to halt leisure centre closure

HOR 141111 Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre. photo by derek martin
HOR 141111 Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre. photo by derek martin

BY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF GARY SHIPTON. Next Wednesday Horsham District Council is due to consider a proposal from its cabinet to close Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre.

The County Times has understood the financial reasons behind the plan and we have gone to great lengths to ensure the council’s explanation is heard.

But the council has, despite this, singularly failed to make its case.

It has been unable to outline the benefits to the public - in terms of alternative leisure provision or a reduction in council tax.

The whole process has been a public relations disaster.

To add to the confusion, this week the leader of the council Robert Nye dramatically resigned. Although this was for reasons entirely unconnected with the closure debate, his departure must now be used as an opportunity by the council to reappraise its position.

There are some in the council who will no doubt be saying this week that the vote must go ahead on Wednesday - to defer the matter would be seen as a sign of weakness.

Such thinking, in my opinion, could not be more wrong.

A strong, wise council should now pause. It should take stock of the enormous public outcry. It should re-evaluate the chaos into which its proposal has descended. It should await the appointment of a new leader to give new vision on the subject.

There are distinguished councillors among the Conservative group who have the ability to bring that vision and are likely to want to leave no stone unturned in finding a more acceptable solution to the leisure centre debate.

There is an old saying that you act in haste and repent in leisure.

It’s time HDC gave supporters of Broadbridge Heath an early Christmas present. They should put closure plans on ice until a new leader with a fresh mandate from his or her colleagues can look anew at the whole issue.

The will of the people must prevail.

The County Times will do everything in its power to ensure that it does.