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July 2006

The Town Hall
Chairman's letter to West Sussex County Times 30.06.06

30 June 2006

Dear Sir

Horsham Town Hall

The Horsham Society has followed the debate over the Town Hall with mounting despair over the attitude of Horsham Council to the future of this historic listed building. Our consistent aim has been to secure an outcome which ensures that the building will remain as a focal point in the life of Horsham, providing community facilities and public access.

The Society was invited to join the advisory group which considered a number of options. We did not support the final recommendation for a folk art centre because we believed that a better outcome could be achieved by combining their requirements with the proposal for a creative arts centre open every day. This is still our view.

It now seems that the council proposes to set aside the recommendations of its own advisory group in favour of a commercial lease, probably to a restaurant or wine bar. Its approach is based solely on maximising income and ensuring that the Town Hall does not remain a net cost to the Council budget. The Horsham Society is completely opposed to any commercial use and the Council’s own consultation last year showed the public feel the same way. We do not accept that it is wrong in principle for council tax payers to subsidise a community facility such as the Town Hall, particularly since it seems such costs now fall only on tax payers within the town.

We are also concerned that the Council seems determined to relocate the Registrar’s office without any clear idea of what other suitable premises might be available. The Marriage Room in the Town Hall provides a splendid setting for civil marriages and is held in great affection by countless Horsham residents who were married there. Unless it is possible to find other premises which are at least as suitable there should be no pressure on the Registrar to move.

Yours faithfully

John Steele