I WAS hoping to write this week about a great meeting with the regional manager of Basepoint, the company that purchased the business centre at Ropetackle.
I was hoping to write all about the compromise agreed that will allow the historic name of Ropetackle to be returned to the towers facing east to the High Street in Shoreham and the north towards Old Shoreham Road.
I was hoping to report that the petition signed by more than 1,000 residents and business owners in the area was well received and I was hoping to report that the new owners of the business centre quite understand the depth of feeling about the site by locals.
But alas, all my hopes have been totally shattered. I have to now write a totally different account of what happened compared to the fictional one I imagined, following the meeting that involved MP Tim Loughton, the chairman of the arts centre, myself, the regional manager and manager of the business centre (I find it hard to call it Basepoint any longer).
The entire object of the meeting was to clear the air and hopefully come to a proper compromise that would be acceptable to all parties and agreeable to Adur District Council.
The company often sends out press releases telling the media of its good charitable work. That is great and we commend them for this, but that does not take away the displeasure felt by many over the name change. It is no good to continually cloud the issue by banging on about charity, the local population needs to be listened to.
We started to discuss a way forward with regards to the signage. Tim made it clear what the name Ropetackle means to the town, he also emphasised that the business centre is located at the entrance, the gateway to the Ropetackle estate. Every step of the discussion was uneasy, with negative responses being thrown back at us, including the comment that ‘the original Ropetackle site was not in its current location but opposite, next to the Bridge pub’!
We showed quite clearly what signage we would like to be placed on the towers but this again received a very negative response, with the words ‘that isn’t going to happen’.
We were shown their suggestion, which consisted of small letters spelling out the name Ropetackle at the base of the east-facing tower. To us, that was totally unacceptable.
Further discussions followed, with the regional manager making it quite clear that they now own the building and it is their right to have their name on the towers. It was also said that they had council approval for the name change.
Tim was beginning to get frustrated by the conversation and having got nowhere after one-and-a-quarter hours, he decided it was time to leave. He did explain to the regional manager the importance of the Ropetackle name and how for many years people fought political battles to ensure the name was on the new development and on the business centre towers in particular, and this was all part of the original planning brief.
I presented the petition, which contained over 1,000 names. The regional manager said she did want to accept the petition as she claimed that those who did sign were coerced into signing. She also said that those who signed were members of the public and her only concern was that of the business community.
I found the attitude arrogant and totally dismissive of any comment from outside the business centre. I hope in time the situation will change, but I won’t hold my breath. It is sad that a company that claims to do so much good in the community can ignore the community it claims to serve. Watch this space…