Highs and lows of life in the Horsham district

JPCT 290313 S13142509x  Piazza Italia.  Horsham Carfax.   -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 290313 S13142509x Piazza Italia. Horsham Carfax. -photo by Steve Cobb

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There are more regular underage binge drinkers in Horsham than in any other district in the county - says a new report.

The area also has the second-highest rate of syphilis and the most unaffordable property prices in West Sussex, according to the second annual West Sussex Life report.

It’s not all bad news as Horsham’s residents receive the highest annual pay at £30,883, and the district also has the lowest proportion of year six school pupils who are classed as obese.

The district has the lowest rates of crime in the county, with incidents dropping by ten per cent in the last year.

It also has the highest rate of non-smokers and the lowest rate of teen pregnancy among 15-17-year-olds.

Meanwhile only Chichester is seeing more jobs being created, as between 2009 and 2011 the percentage growth in Horsham was 3.5, outstripping the county average of 2.2.

However more than one in ten 14-15-year-olds are reported as binge drinking regularly in the Horsham district, while three in every 100,000 people is reported as having the sexually-transmitted disease syphilis, a figure beaten only by Crawley.

And according to the research the affordability of housing in the Horsham district, linked to the bottom earners and house prices, is actually worse than some London boroughs.

Despite this the proportion of residents on its local authority housing register is by far the lowest in West Sussex at 2.1 per cent.

More generally West Sussex was named as the sunniest place in the UK with 1,902 hours of sunshine a year, while its residents scored the highest level of ‘life satisfaction’ and ‘feeling worthwhile’ across the South East.

In a foreword to the report Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West), leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “We continue to live in difficult economic times, and it remains important to understand the changing landscape of the county, socially, economically and environmentally, in order that we can focus on the things that make a positive difference to our communities.

“This year’s report shows encouraging signs of growth, particularly around our economy and the number of new business start-ups. Adult participation in sport is also on the increase, while reports of crime and anti-social behaviour continue to fall across the county.”

The health of Horsham district residents remains the highest in most age categories, with the biggest number describing their health as ‘good’ or ‘very’ good between 0-15 and 50+, and the second highest between the ages of 16 and 49.

Meanwhile three wards, Bramber/Upper Beeding, Forest, and Rudgwick have some of the highest levels of disability-free life expectancy in the county.

Although the crime rate is lowest in the district, with 34.1 incidents reported per 1,000 of the population, and while Horsham has seen a 10.1 per cent decrease in offences from 2011/12 to 2012/13, domestic abuse and sexual offences have both increased in the last year.

Alcohol related crime was down, while the cases of anti-social behaviour fell by more than 1,000.

Just two homophobic crimes were committed in the Horsham district in 2012/13, with 25 racist crimes, both down on the previous year.

The county-wide research suggested that around one in five people in Horsham feel unsafe walking alone in their local area after dark.

While Horsham is listed as one of the least deprived areas in West Sussex, and has the lowest rate of deprivation among lower people in West Sussex, the number of children in relative poverty is listed at 2,505. Meanwhile according to research 5,456 households are estimated to be in fuel poverty in 2011 in the district.

Elsewhere people in the area are the most-well paid in West Sussex, receiving annual pay of £30,883, which could be due to the amount of residents commuting to London for higher-earning jobs, the report speculates.

Low unemployment levels are beaten only by Mid Sussex, with just one in 100 women claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, and one in 50 men receiving the out-of-work benefit.

Firms tend to be small in the area, as nearly three-quarters of businesses employ up to four people, the highest across West Sussex.