Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 9th July 2014

It’s been 10 years since I was last responsible for Leisure and Cultural Services and looking at Tilgate Park a lot has happened since my time, but much still remains to be done.

I always wanted to build the Tilgate relief road, relieving congestion in Tilgate, and it’s now moving ahead with my full support. To ensure pedestrians and cyclists can continue to access the Park safely I am also looking at ways of improving bicycle/pedestrian access in the same direction. I see this as an important safety issue and it should produce a very attractive route up into the park.

In the park itself there are a number of options that would be a real gain to all those visiting the site. Could the old Stable area be used more inventively? Imagine park events incorporating music, dance and performance, involving Community Arts and bringing together local organisations from across Crawley.

We need to look at provision down by the Lake. As interest in boating grows will the boathouse be enough? There are no toilets in this area and it’s also a long way from refreshments. I would like to see some real improvements around the lake, making facilities more available and creating a better lakeside experience.

Behind the Walled Garden, the former Green Space Environmental Centre lies vacant. This building has great potential and could be used for educational purposes or even business events and we should look at ways of involving the Walled Garden Café in this end.

Alongside our experienced park workers I would like to involve young people in running and developing the Park, learning how to grow and cultivate and gaining experience that benefits them for the rest of their lives.

In all of this I recognise the essence of the Park is its natural environment. This cannot be put at risk and I will not support over-development which would create some sort of Theme Park. The Park should always be based on its natural and beautiful environment.

Tilgate Park belongs to the people of Crawley and I’d to see a ‘Friends of Tilgate Park’ organisation come together, for the time-being please get in touch and let me know any comments or ideas you have for the future of our park.

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