Our thriving high streets are at the centre of our rural communities: the independent shops which bring unique character, popular cafes and pubs offering a warm welcome and small service businesses, all run by dedicated people and providing useful local employment. Most wouldn’t survive on local custom alone but require a boost from the West Sussex visitor economy.
For this reason, I share residents’ immense disappointment that the leadership of Chichester District Council last week decided to barrel on with imposing Sunday parking fees for the first time in rural car parks and to hike hourly charges. Reportedly only 16 out of 36 Councillors backed this measure so it’s not even democratic. The change will raise a relatively small amount of money but deter a far larger amount of local spend from passing visitors. I say that it is not too late and Cllr Harsha Desai and Leader Cllr Adrian Moss who proposed this terrible idea should make a U turn before the damage is done.
Separately, in a devasting development for those of us seeking to protect our remaining South Downs green spaces, the leadership of Horsham District Council have published plans to allow developers to build more homes in Ashington, Cowfold, Henfield, Partridge Green, Steyning, Pulborough, West Chiltington, Storrington, Sullington and Thakeham. They also plan to allocate gypsy and traveller sites to Codmore Hill, Thakeham, Storrington, West Chiltington, North Heath and Small Dole.
Whilst I am glad that following successful campaigns that I raised in Parliament mean that proposals for vast new developments in Adversane, West Grinstead and Mayfield Market Town have been dropped, this is a completely inappropriate level of development for our already over-run roads and public services.
The plan is open for consultation now until 5pm on Friday 1st March. You can find how to make your voice heard on my own website and it is important that as many of us as possible do so.