Council of despair over Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre?

Never having been to a council meeting before, we thought most councillors were grey-haired scientists from the Nineties, write Kieran Graves and Matt Streeter.

We are pupils at The Forest School who have been on work experience at The Resident and have been working on the issue of leisure facilities at Broadbridge Heath.

Considering all the government and council cuts, there was a fairly large police turnout for a demonstration in the Carfax before the meeting. We then attended the meeting on the all-too-familiar topic of the new leisure centre, in which many options were considered. However, there was little mention of the People’s Option.

It was pleasing to see that the chairman (Cllr Leonard Crosbie) was nice enough to relate to the teenage audience by wearing a gold-plated medallion. But these pleasantries were short-lived, as he had no qualms about cutting short two of the public speakers’ speeches, limiting them to two minutes each. The speakers were clapped and cheered by members of the public in the room and next door in The Capitol.

The council chamber was straight out of a blockbuster movie, with its fashionable round table and the elevated chairman slowly being engulfed by his over-sized chair. The council report was like trying to read a dictionary, which was then matched by the ‘jargon’ that was coming out of the councillors’ mouths.

This form of so-called ‘debate’ was really just all the different councillors repeating each other using slightly more ‘ands’ and ‘buts’ each time.

Cllr Jonathan Chowen talked of the Option 7A being “Horsham’s choice”. He should have realised that 55 per cent of people voted for the People’s Option but only 34.5 per cent for Option 7.

He also spoke of the Olympic success that this country has gained by having lots more sporting facilities available. At the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996, Great Britain won only 15 medals in total, compared to 47 at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. After councillors had finished talking about that, telling us that they then proposed to demolish a perfectly good leisure centre did seem rather contradictory and ridiculous.

The council seem to be very forceful with their decisions, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they let the Broadbridge Heath FC U9 players drive the bulldozers.

The Indoor Bowls Club chairman said the club felt “forcefully moved” from its current location. Sheila White, of the 50+ Group, raised the point that facilities for disabled people were among the many being “jettisoned”. On this point, gym user Corina Gibson asked the council whether they were more interested in the health of their people or the money from the site sale.

And yes, a lot of the councillors did seem to be grey-haired scientists from the Nineties – or even earlier.

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