The strain of new housing developments on Shoreham and Lancing’s infrastructure was the hot topic last night as candidates vying for election faced a grilling from residents.
Labour, UKIP and Conservative candidates for the West Sussex County Council Shoreham South seat debated at the Shoreham Centre in an event organised by Shoreham Beach Residents’ Association (Thursday, April 20).
Questions around education, health, air pollution and congested roads were posed – with a series of major developments expected across Adur a key factor in the challenges ahead.
UKIP’s Geoff Patmore said: “I can’t just sit back and see the destruction of Lancing and Shoreham which is happening before our very eyes.
“The Tory vision is to develop an urban sprawl cramming in housing to every nook and cranny of land available to create a greater Brighton area.”
Conservative candidate Kevin Boram, like Mr Patmore an Adur district councillor, said he supported the emerging local plan, which sets out the strategy for development.
But he argued developers must ‘demonstrate clearly’ how the community would benefit.
Labour’s Steve Gilbert said the challenge of meeting lofty housing targets needed a fresh approach on a wider, strategic level.
His election material called for a transport strategy to address problems on the roads – matching Mr Boram’s call for improved public transport.
Mr Patmore suggested Shoreham’s traffic issues could be helped by pedestrianisation of the town centre and ‘going round it’ using Old Shoreham Road – but construction of the New Monks Farm development in Lancing would create huge pressure on the area.
Mr Gilbert said years of Tory county council control meant it was time for a change.
“I fear this has led to complacency in the county council,” he said.
“I would like to offer a challenge to the status quo and look to hold the council to closer account.”
Debate and questions often strayed into matters of national politics or district council matters.
But resident Barry Hillman queried what the candidates would do about a long-empty property opposite the Shoreham Centre, in Pond Road.
While not naming the facility – both Mr Boram and Mr Gilbert correctly understood the building to be the county council-owned Burrscroft care home.
But Mr Patmore appeared stumped, saying he ‘didn’t know the house’.
Mr Gilbert said allowing the building to remain empty had been ‘scandalous’, while Mr Boram described it as an ‘appalling waste of resource’.
The county council elections take place on Thursday, May 4.
The new Shoreham South division includes Shoreham Beach, parts of Shoreham town centre and stretches into south Lancing.
The Liberal Democrats candidate, Drew Tinsley, did not attend the hustings. The Green Party’s Andrew Bradbury is also listed as a candidate.