Comments ‘offensive to people living in shanty towns’

A shanty town in Bangladesh.
A shanty town in Bangladesh.

A HORSHAM councillor’s apology for likening parts of Crawley town centre to a shanty town has not satisfied Conservative colleagues there.

Roy Cornell (Con, Roffey), made the controversial remark at a district council meeting where colleagues were discussing the Horsham Town Plan.

While referring to parts of the report about the town’s shopping experience he said competition from Crawley was nothing Horsham has to worry about.

The comments provoked a massive reaction across the district’s border with the County Times’s sister paper, The Crawley Observer receiving numerous online messages - some agreeing with Mr Cornell and others speaking up for the town.

Last week he admitted his comments were ‘over the top’ and the throwaway remark was his own opinion, but added parts of the Broadwalk looked ‘tired and distressed’.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Cornell said: “During a discussion in the Horsham District Council chamber recently I made a statement, or rather I passed a personal opinion, which was throwaway comment and perhaps a little over the top.

“I apologise to the residents of Crawley for any offence taken.

“However I’m certain that the residents of Crawley would agree that parts of the town, the Broadwalk in particular, are looking tired and distressed and in need of a serious project to revive the area - as we have done in Horsham town centre in the past ten years.”

He added: “There are a lot of empty units in Crawley and it would concern me if I was a Crawley councillor.”

However it was not enough for chairman of the Crawley Conservative Association Liam Marshall-Ascough who has personal experience of living near a real shanty town.

He said: “My views in terms of his resignation are that it is for the Association to decide and it is his choice.

“However I do think his comments were stupid and misguided and you don’t try to run down another town to bolster your own town.

“I’m more than happy to show him around Crawley. I’ve lived here since I was 16.

“I have also lived in South Africa and seen real shanty towns.

“It’s offensive to the people in Crawley and offensive to the people living in shanty towns.”

Referring to comments by fellow Conservative member Andrew Baldwin (Holbrook East) about Bognor Regis, he said: “The Group (in Horsham) needs to get their act together. It’s not the first time this has happened.

“They need to stop concentrating on other towns and start concentrating on improving their own town.”

Responding specifically to Mr Cornell’s apology, Mr Marshall-Ascough, added: “As a representative of his own ward in Roffey and a representative of the district it is important to have an understanding of what is going on in your neighbouring town.

“Crawley is a fantastic town. We have got huge regeneration going on, £400million worth.

“We’ve got new stores opening all the time. Wilkinson’s is opening where TJ Hughes was and we have another major company putting massive investment in.

“This makes sure we can rival towns like Brighton and Croydon.”

Crawley also has big names such as Virgin Atlantic, Travelodge, EDF Energy and Deloitte based there.

“Horsham is part of West Sussex. If he doesn’t know what’s going on next door, does he know what’s going on in his own town?

“If they do have some brilliant ideas, then share them.

“We’re also investing in the parades - not just the town centre.

“Broadfield Barton which is one of the worst parade areas is having investment put into it.

“I don’t think that’s happening in Horsham.

“I’m offering Mr Cornell an open invitation to come and see Crawley and look at what we are doing here. If he wants any tips we are more than happy to give him some.”