Nik Butler: Is event good for Horsham, or economic bump?

editorial image

I am asking for it in this column; in more ways than one.

I guess it will be inevitable that this will be accompanied by a picture of some red luxury sports car of the Italian persuasion. This month saw the return of the inescapable lather of love which is solicited towards a rather tenuous association between Horsham and Fast Cars. If you missed the link it is about Horses, the prancing variety.

Another event, its eighth one, has passed; and it continues to demonstrate that which I continually espouse. Horsham provides an ideal venue for events and festivals. Yet much of the strategic plans do not seem to appear to embrace those concepts.

Horsham is demonstrably a suitable destination for exhibitions and events. Yet it’s constantly characterised as an office and retail location.

On the first day carparks were over flowing with visitors. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that parking luxury cars around the town was effortless; there was little for those visiting. Certainly there was free parking, on the Bank Holiday, but nothing was seen to be done to ensure that free parking continued over the the Saturday.

Thousands of people visited Horsham and of those I spoke with in the last few years none admitted to actually wishing to shop within or return to Horsham.

Those statements go against a populist view, which is repeated almost hypnotically, that the event is ‘good for Horsham’. I submit that whilst it appears ‘good’ it is no more than a economic bump. It does not provide an economic step up for our town.

When Horsham bustles it is indeed a brilliant place to be; but if the activity does not relate to sales, receipts and invoices for local businesses through the weeks proceeding, and the months following, then we should take account of the value of ‘Good for Horsham’.

We should reconsider the strategy. There is no denying that the spectacle and the organisation of this event are well executed; but it constantly leaves me with the impression that once it is completed it is packed away for another year.

Meanwhile I wonder why events like the Festival of Sound and other non council-led events are not greeted with the same mantra ‘it’s good for Horsham’.

Is there a hint of ‘not invented here’ which makes it hard for Horsham’s community to contribute for the ‘Good of Horsham’.