What’s so difficult about making a real decision?

The conclusion reached by West Sussex County Council’s North Horsham County Local Committee to refer the fate of East Street to a public inquiry was probably not too much of a surprise as it avoided the need to make a decision.

Sometimes it’s difficult to understand why we bother to elect county councillors if they are not prepared to consider the facts available to them and then make an informed decision. The reason why the county council introduced the Temporary Regulation Order (TRO) concerning East Street in the first place was due to an overwhelming demand from the public in the face of a minority of objectors.

Nothing has changed in the intervening period, except that we’ve seen the success of the TRO. It’s not really surprising that objectors remain since that’s human nature.

Shouldn’t we, therefore, expect our county councillors to decide whether the TRO that they introduced because of public pressure was a success or a failure? Surely, that’s the sort of job we expect them to do when we elect them?

The pedestrianisation of East Street between 10.30 and 16.30 has been an unmitigated success. It’s been wonderful to be able to walk down the street without being hooted at by a lorry or a car. It’s been terrific not to have to inhale the exhaust fumes from passing or parked vehicles. The vast majority of the people of Horsham continue to support the exclusion of vehicles from the street.

Obviously, deliveries have to be made to and in some cases collections made from the businesses in East Street but these are not prevented by core closing of the street. It just means that the businesses have to be organised in how they deal with their suppliers and customers and, to be fair, the majority of the businesses seem to have managed without any real problem.

Clearly, we should consider any business that has suffered a financial loss as a result of core closing of the street. No data seems to be available to show which businesses, if any, have been adversely affected.

Then we have to consider access for people with disabilities. Fortunately, there are significant numbers of parking spaces for Blue Badge holders in the vicinity of East Street, such as in the Denne Road and Piries Place car parks. Parking is also usually available on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours and this can be seen, for example, in the regular use of the Causeway during the day by Blue Badge holders.

So it’s difficult to understand why there should be a need for parking by Blue Badge holders in a relatively short street such as East Street when there’s no such facility available to them in the pedestrianised and much longer West Street.

It’s about time our local representatives at county level nailed their colours to the mast. They should have the courage to make a decision, which reflects the views of their constituents, and then be prepared to defend that decision at any subsequent public inquiry demanded by any objectors. They shouldn’t put the cart before the horse.

The Horsham Society is concerned about the past, present and future of the town. It seeks to promote good planning and design for the built environment and open spaces. Membership of the Horsham Society is open to anyone, who shares these concerns.

For more information, visit our website www.horshamsociety.org or telephone 01403 261640.