Nik Butler: Lip service paid to core Conservative principles

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

There was a time in Horsham where you could walk from street to street, around the town centre of Horsham, and see clusters of business properties with ‘To Let’ signs hanging from their walls.

The majority of those signs were from one company; from a visitor’s perspective you could have imagined that Horsham was sponsored by Crickmays.

As a small business owner, and a freelancer in Horsham, it is impossible to go a few months in business without stumbling into a conversation over renting property which does not involve a discussion around the lettings business of Crickmay and their offerings.

This may be why they appear to be strong supporters of new business premises being built North of Horsham.

Just as Turkeys don’t vote for Thanksgiving, so landlords won’t vote against new buildings which they can purchase and let.

Crickmays’ success in establishing a strong business presence should not however be seen as a sinister plot which works against the interests of Horsham. Unless, of course, you can point to particular occasions where business owners have had trouble establishing a presence in central Horsham locations.

I wonder if there are any mechanisms to protect Horsham high streets from personal preferences of landlords?

The concern though is not the business practice but with the procedure of public assets passed to private interests.

A procedure that has ensured yet another recognisable feature of Horsham architecture ‘Park House’ has been handed over in much the same way The Old Town Hall was disposed. A procedure apparently without clear due diligence in selection.

I find it a constant source of incredulity that an apparently Conservative cabinet appears to discourage the concept of competition and free market when it comes to such opportunities in Horsham. Ideals which are promoted as core principles of Conservative values are paid little more than lip service when coffers come up short and extra finances are sought out.

I wonder what a freedom of information request would be able to turn up in the ratio of bids to awards in relation to property management, and disposal, in Horsham. What would those figures mean in relation to the preferred strategy of Horsham going forward.

The better question to be asked though is with the ongoing disposal of assets in Horsham will there be anywhere for the council to meet in 2015?