Today was Armed Forces Day, the time when we ask people once a year to really think about the sacrifices made by those who have served or are currently serving and their families, all of whom have made sacrifices on our behalf.
Crawley has a strong link with the Armed Services. In 1921, the Memorial Gardens were purchased by the community to remember all those who had lost their lives during the Great War and until this day many of our young people, including a number of those I went to school with, spend time in uniform.
Service comes with an obvious risk of physical and mental harm, but those who serve and their families often also have to face challenges at home when it comes to accessing housing, employment or local services. That’s why Labour councillors first called for the council to create a Community Covenant with the Armed Forces to work together to break down these barriers and I was proud that one the first decisions we took when we regained control of the council was implementing the Veterans Interview Scheme. As a country, we can and must do better to ensure that we support those who support us, in Crawley we’ll do everything we can.
The events in the Memorial Gardens were only one part of a day filled with community activity, from the Three Bridges Garden Festival to celebrating the creation of a new Gossops Green and Bewbush parish, not to forget the Midsummer Dew Festival in Worth Park.
We have so many different cultures, religions and creeds in Crawley, we are blessed with the opportunity to participate in a range of community celebrations, such as the Irish Festival and the Mela, and the Dew Festival is a chance for the town to participate in the traditions of Eastern European members.
Crawley New Town celebrates its 70th Birthday this year, it was built to be a place people came to and its literal foundations were laid by Irish immigrants. The question of what Brexit means for many in our community is a big one. Whether or not you believe that we should leave in the EU, this will clearly have a dramatic effect for neighbours, colleagues and friends who do not hold British citizenship and they deserve to know if the course of their lives is about to be permanently altered. Whatever the Government agrees with the EU, they need to know that so long as I remain Leader, Crawley Borough Council is on the side of all of its residents, irrespective of their nationality.