Councillor warns of ‘overgrown village’

An empty Billingshurst High Street during bank holiday Monday
An empty Billingshurst High Street during bank holiday Monday

A BILLINGSHURST Parish councillor was given a round of applause during a parish meeting after slamming the ‘overgrown’ village for its inadequate services.

After friends of his informed him that they were thinking of moving to Billingshurst from Northampton and wanted his advice on the area, councillor Alan Grant decided to share the response he had given during the council’s annual meeting last Wednesday (May 2).

“Billingshurst is an overgrown village,” he said. “You will probably shop elsewhere, go to work elsewhere, and your children may have to go to school elsewhere.

“Shops in Billingshurst have been decreasing, there are still a handful of reasonable shops but nowhere near the number you would expect of a community of this size.”

Councillors listened intently as Mr Grant read on, stating that many of the trains are slow and the schools are full.

He continued: “There may be a new primary school in three or four years time and possibly a new secondary school at Southwater sometime in the future but don’t hold your breath.”

“There is no university within 20 miles - worse than any other town or village in Horsham District I think.

“Billingshurst is farther from a hospital than anywhere else in the county - about 20 miles. Its surgery is good but does not have the enhanced facilities which exist at Steyning, Pulborough and Horsham.”

Mr Grant, who has lived in the village for 30 years, went on to say that the area is ‘mainly at the end of the line’ for water and electricity and that mains drainage is ‘to capacity’.

He also pointed out that the village does not get HD TV, 3G coverage is ‘patchy’, and the area is ‘way down the list’ for high speed broadband.

“Billingshurst is no longer a large village but is now a small town but without the shops you would expect to go with a town.”

Mr Grant finished with a compliment to the ‘enthusiastic’ voluntary sector which ‘has improved the sports, arts and recreational facilities’.

“[The village] has more than doubled in the last 15 years with new estates predominating and the old centre is looking rather tired.”

The speech was met with a round of applause from approximately half the councillors but as they cheered and affirmed ‘well said’, councillor Lesley Gray spoke up.

“I haven’t lived here as long as some but I think this is a fantastic village,” she said. “No where will stay the same forever.”

She continued: “The crime is incredibly low and I think we have a good selection of shops.

“I think we shouldn’t dwell on what is bad and I think it’s a shame to hear that from our parish council.”