Labour County Council candidates in Littlehampton and Arundel today slammed plans by West Sussex County Council to invest scarce council funds in a highly speculative development of a shopping centre in Horsham at the expense of much-needed local health facilities.
The County Council are proposing to spend nearly £16 million building shops on the site of a former Council depot near Horsham in a potentially risky deal that is being rushed through committees without scrutiny.
Yet last year WSCC scrapped support for an urgently needed integrated health hub in Littlehampton – bringing police, fire and ambulance services, and local health provision onto a single site.
Property speculation by Councils is very high risk – especially with the pandemic. All over the country retailers are behind with their rent. Even before the current lockdown, it was estimated that over £2 billion was owed by retailers to their landlords. Labour argues now is not the time for the County Council to gamble with public money.
Alan Butcher, Labour’s candidate for Littlehampton Town said “West Sussex Tories seem to have lost sight of their duty to serve the needs of local people. Especially when recovering from times like these the health hub in Littlehampton would make a positive difference to effectively delivering healthcare whereas this retail park elsewhere will put pressure on existing retailers.”
“This is pure folly” said Michael Ward, Labour’s candidate for Arundel and Courtwick. “The West Sussex Tories had one job – providing decent services. Government inspectors found they were incompetent. So they have turned to property speculation instead.”
Freddie Tandy, Labour candidate for Littlehampton East, said: “The West Sussex Tories have chosen to put building a retail park before the health interests of the people of Littlehampton, who will continue to suffer the consequences of poorly supported medical provision despite the growth of the town. Residents will be rightly outraged by this out of touch move.”