I read with interest, the article in WSCT on June 21 titled ‘Let’s put pride back into our town’.
Horsham Society certainly have their work cut out for them.
I am Horsham born and bred, and after working overseas for the best part of 30 years, am now semi-retired and living in North Parade.
In my frequent return visits over the years I have always enjoyed time spent back in my home town, and I still love Horsham.
However, it is certainly a pale reflection of the heady days of Horsham In Bloom.
I am sure their are many reasons for this, not least the reduced interest and support from local businesses.
One only has to look at the ever increasing empty shop fronts, largely driven by higher rents , to understand this.
If local businesses cannot sustain a healthy business, they are very unlikely to support beautifying grass verges and colourful hanging baskets!
However, in the article, Councillor Christine Costin touches on the lack of commitment from Horsham District Council, and my belief is that this is the core of the problem.
Take North Parade as an example (see picture on this page). The grass verges were allowed to grow to such an extent that the vision of cars attempting to join North Parade from side roads such as Blunts Way, Rushams Road, and Milnwood Road was being compromised.
Also, what an impression for visitors entering the town along North Parade.
Finally, the grass was cut. Well I use the word cut very loosely. It was hacked at and the cuttings just left to become hay!
Even a rubbish bin could not escape the ‘wrecking crew’.
I messaged HDC asking if they were happy about the state of the verges, and their answer was ‘verges are the responsibility of West Sussex County Council’.
There would seem to be no oversight by our town council of contractors that do work for them, and are presumably paid by them from our council tax money?
I messaged them again asking if their reply to me meant that they are happy just to let this shoddy workmanship continue and whether there was any type of oversight or ‘Service Level Agreement’ that should maintain a certain standard?
Needless to say, they have not responded to this.
Having said all of the above, I do have some sympathy for HDC.
Central Government are funding less and less, so they are having to make savings where they can, and prioritise services they do offer.
To increase revenue, they are increasing business rents.
Unfortunately this means businesses are closing, and there is less revenue coming in, not more.
The town is looking less attractive because of empty shops, closed pubs, and unkempt verges, so less people come.
At the same time, somehow, millions are being spent on large scale developments, presumably to try and improve ever decreasing visitor numbers to our town?
Good luck with that, and good luck to Horsham Society in trying to work with HDC and local business to return our town to its glory days.
North Parade, Horsham