Clive Agran on the virtues of living in Horsham

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Clive Agran shares the local issues that are furrowing his brow

Bob, a friend from Horsham, rang recently sounding cheerful and smug in equal measure. Although he suggested a game of golf, it soon became apparent the main motive behind the call was simply to gloat. “The quality of life here in Horsham is extraordinarily good,” he remarked. “Do you know what the average weekly earnings are?” I confessed I didn’t. “Would you believe £734?” I had no reason to doubt it. Although already 70, he confidently expected to live another 11½ years because, “81½ is the average life expectancy of men here in Horsham.” He then hit me with another extraordinary question. “Guess how many rooms there are in the average dwelling here?” Still reeling from the barrage of statistics, I was clearly struggling so Bob helped me out. “5.9!” he yelled triumphantly. “And 98 per cent of homes have both central heating and bathrooms. We enjoy 1741 hours of sunshine a year while enduring only a miserable 838 millimetres of rain. And did you know that 75 per cent of homes in Horsham have broadband?” I confessed I didn’t. Only when he asked what I thought the population density was did I fire a question back at him. “What on earth has prompted all this nonsense?” “The latest Halifax Quality of Life Survey,” he revealed. If you promise not to ring anyone up and bore them with it, I can tell you Horsham came 20th in the list of local authorities with the most contented residents. However, Mid Sussex District Council did even better (17th) while Brighton just squeezed into the top 250 in 249th.

Although hurricane-force winds are always going to create problems, I can’t help feeling that some of the recent havoc caused by the violent storms could have been avoided. For example, trees should not be allowed to fall on railway lines and heap yet more misery onto already long-suffering commuters. The solution is extraordinarily simple. Any tree within range of a railway line must be felled. For example, a 40ft tree growing 35 feet from the line has to go. As well as enhancing safety, such a ruthless policy has considerable extra benefits: 1) It would reduce the likelihood of leaves on the line; 2) the revenue earned from the resulting sale of timber could be used to reduce fares – alternatively, a log could be given away free with every train ticket; and 3) the absence of obstructing trees will considerably enhance the view from carriages thus attracting more passengers and generating more revenue. It’s a win-windy solution.

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