Concern at the decline in footfall of Burgess Hill’s town centre

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We refer to the story in the Middy (31/01/19) about the difficult trading climate for LJ’s cafe and the comments of Councillor Pru Moore.

Our information on footfall in the town centre in recent months is that it shows a decrease, and anyone visiting the centre can see with their own eyes that the lower end is starting to look derelict.

The loss of Clark’s shoe shop after many years will only add to the sense of decline.

As Cllr Moore acknowledges, changes in high streets and uncertainty over Brexit are affecting investment. New River may still want to invest in us, as she asserts, but their sole concern is profitability and not the community of Burgess Hill. If there are signs that the expected profits are likely to decrease then their proposals may not come to fruition or may be drastically altered.

The current delay in the timetable - the temporary library, for example, is many months overdue - is very worrying and we also note that New River’s share price has declined substantially since last July.

The council presumably has a good working relationship with New River and it is incumbent upon them to consider the community and give regular detailed updates on the progress and timetabling of the work, with a regular report to council meetings. We require open and transparent information on all aspects of the development, including financial arrangements. For example, who is paying for the temporary library, the proposed demolition of the Martlets or the provision of the temporary car park?

The message during at least the past ten years of Conservative local government has always been “jam tomorrow”. So far, that has only meant jam for housing developers, who have been given carte blanche to build wherever they want. It is now time to stand up for the community and put it at the centre of council considerations.

David Andrews

Chair - Burgess Hill Labour Party

Junction Road

Burgess Hill

In response, a spokesman for New River said: “NewRiver has been progressing plans for its re-development of Burgess Hill town centre and continue to remain committed to helping regenerate the town. NewRiver plans to share an update on the project in the coming weeks.”