30 years ago

From the West Sussex County Times of Friday February 18, 1983

More than 500 families in the Horsham district were still relying on standpipes for their water but an end to their ordeal seemed in sight.

Southern Water Authority chairman Sir Godfrey Taylor predicted an effective end to the 25-day-old national strike on Sunday.

He said a ‘trickle’ of strikers had responded to his call to return to work but declined to say whether manual workers in West Sussex division were among them.

Union leaders in Sussex said their members would stay out until the result of the inquiry set up to resolve the pay dispute was known.

The 500 properties in Horsham district relying in standpipes included 17 farms, two schools, a monastery, a telephone exchange and the RSPCA headquarters.

During the past week, families in Horsham felt the effects of the dispute for the first time as burst mains in North Heath Lane, Sandeman Way and the Causeway left about 80 homes without direct supply.

A burst main in Comptons Lane reduced supplies to Forest Hospital and about 60 homes. Striking workers agreed it was an emergency and repaired the break within hours.

Horsham and Crawley will become separate parliamentary constituencies in time for the next general election, widely expected to be held in either June or October this year.

The recommendation that Horsham and Crawley, currently a single seat represented by Peter Hordern (Conservative) should be split to form two new constituencies is contained in the Boundary Commission for England’s report, which was delivered to Home Secretary William Whitelaw last weekend.

Now the rush is on to get the proposals approved by both Houses of Parliament and the Privy Council.

On Tuesday, Mr Whitelaw laid a draft order approving the changes before the House of Commons, where they are likely to be debated during the week after next.

The Labour Party, which has already challenged the proposals unsuccessfully in court, is expected to make a last ditch stand against them in Parliament.

But all parties now accept that the battle is over bar the shouting and that the changes will come into force – probably before the end of April.

The division of the Horsham and Crawley seat into two new constituencies is one of the few changes in England likely to benefit Labour. Tories look on the new Horsham seat as safe, but Crawley as ‘critical’ and Labour see Crawley as perhaps its most winnable seat in Sussex.

The final stages in the long negotiations that will see the beginning of work on Southwater’s £500,000 country park will be completed within the next few weeks.

Horsham District Council’s plan is to build a country park with lakes, boating and fishing facilities and picnicking areas on the old worked out claypits, currently owned by Redland Brick Ltd.

Because of an agreement signed by Redlands when it moved onto the site, the firm had to restore the land to its former state when it left. Instead the company offered to sell the pits to the council for a nominal fee and then donate £330,000 towards the cost of developing it as a country park.