WHISPERING SMITH: 3D image is putting off visitors to our town

FIRST impressions, right or wrong, are important and tend to colour one’s ongoing thoughts.

I have a great fondness for our town and hate being negative about it any way. By and large, the people are warm and friendly, I have built up and continue to build a wide and varied circle of good friends here.

We have the lovely River Arun, two super bathing beaches and, within a bow-shot, a surrounding countryside unsurpassed by any southern county.

Sadly, there are three Ds that let our town down with a bump and give an ill-perceived first impression: dreary architecture/derelict building sites, drunks/drugs and dog mess.

I know that is five, but less sounds better. There are too many of the first, too many of the second and far too many of the third.

The Saturday before last should have been a real town celebration of the impending bonfire procession – kids and balloons everywhere, as were the drunks and the dog mess.

I met some friends from the London train and, knowing them well, was interested in their reaction for this first-time visit. Sadly, they were not impressed with the dreary design of the buildings or the derelict Locomotive public house site that greeted them as they left our splendidly maintained railway station.

As for the other two D’s, well, the second were prominent, swigging away and being rowdy in the town centre and later on in the Arcade, the language was pretty ripe and the tempers not very even.

I will not comment further on the dog D, you can see that for yourself on almost any day, but I would very much like to know how many dog owners were fined over the summer dog warden-patrolled period?

A quick visit to the Little Things Market was fun and my friends enjoyed the street music and the fund-raising hustle and bustle of High Street. They most certainly enjoyed an evening pint in The Dolphin, the procession and the fireworks and the Sunday morning coffee at The Contented Pig.

However, I fear they left my town with no great desire to return, which is a pity, and were our elected councillors to rid us of some of those Ds, it may well earn us some first impression As from future visitors.