Campaigners survey Horsham’s election candidates on Rookwood and town issues

Prior to this week’s elections, the Keep Rookwood Green Alliance (KRGA) invited Horsham town candidates to participate in a survey.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 12:09 pm
Rookwood Golf Course. Photo by Steve Robards

The group says it was ‘pleasantly struck’ by how many election leaflets included concerns about the potential loss of Rookwood and mentioned green ambitions.

KRGA is apolitical and said it was interested to understand more about how locally elected politicians think about the issues that matter to so many town residents.

Although some questions asked about issues under the control of Horsham District Council rather than West Sussex County Council, campaigners say they still reveal candidates’ priorities and thinking.

The survey was sent to all 25 candidates with 16 responding across the four major political parties.

Candidates were asked about their top three priorities with climate change coming top, followed by residents’ wellbeing and then education, the local economy and affordable housing.

Asked about how well Horsham town’s infrastructure is coping with the recent level of housebuilding, six answered ‘not well at all’, five ‘not so well’ and five ‘somewhat well’.

Meanwhile on Rookwood itself, all but two were ‘extremely concerned’ about the potential loss of Rookwood as a community asset.

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Although biodiversity was not at the top of the priority list all but three candidates were extremely concerned about the impact of more homes on wildlife corridors and biodiversity.

The survey also asked candidates what they would do to protect the town’s green spaces. Seven said they wanted them to be given legal protection, while two thought this was a matter for HDC.

Other comments included standing up to HDC, returning strategic planning to locally elected bodies and prioritising brownfield sites and multi-level dwellings to reduce the amount of land needed for development.

Views were also sought on whether Horsham town residents needed to be given more of a voice.

Suggestions included the need for a town council, ensuring HDC is led by/the cabinet includes a Horsham town representative, community assemblies, supporting campaign groups and being a contact point/surgeries/canvassing opinion.

Full survey results can be viewed online.

We also interviewed all the main political parties ahead of the West Sussex County Council election.

Here is our handy guide to everything you need to know about this year’s elections in West Sussex.