I AM WRITING concerning the proposed axing by Horsham District Council of the Old Mill Steam Fair from next year’s Horsham Town Centre Festival.
I find this inexplicable. The council must have know that the proposal made to Phil Read, the fair’s founder, by the town centre manager Mr Mortimer-Cook, to run the fair on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but not on Saturday, would not be acceptable.
As Mr Read says, Saturday is the fair’s busiest day and a day when whole families can come in together. So the council then seems to have changed the argument and said that the fair was just not right for Horsham.
On what, I wonder, is this opinion based? Personally, I cannot think of a better place for a traditional fair than an historic market town like Horsham. And how can HDC possibly justify the removal of such an affordable form of entertainment at a time of economic hardship when many families are struggling to make ends meet and have little left over for children’s treats?
Yet another reason for retaining the fair must be that anything which brings people into town, as the fair certainly does, can surely only be beneficial to the town’s trades, many of whom are also suffering as a result of the economic climate.
While I appreciate that the Carfax market has to move to East Street to accommodate the fair, it is after all only for one day in the year and perhaps the extra numbers drawn to the town might, if the move is sufficiently publicised, help to some extent to make up any losses. It would seem essential that the fair remains where it is in the very heart of the town.
And what about the children who derive such pleasure from the fair? I took a three and a four-year-old there on the Thursday and the sheer joy on their face as they rode the children’s roundabouts was a delight to behold.
The whole atmosphere of the town is changed by the presence of the fair and Horsham would be the poorer without it. As for the two extra events to be put on next year, they are only one-off occasions, whereas the fair is a regular event.
I hope, therefore, that HDC will rethink its ill-considered proposal and that the fair will continue to give pleasure for many years to come. Incidentally, I have lived here for only 11 years so one doesn’t need to be a long-standing resident to appreciate the benefits of living in a town like Horsham.
Drake Close, Horsham