Crawley’s 75th Anniversary Column, Crawley Observer

Sunday marks the 75th Anniversary of Crawley’s designation as a New Town. At that time, the area consisted of a few small villages, several large country estates, and plenty of farms, the memory of which are preserved today in the names of many of the town’s roads and buildings.

Crawley had been intended to be the first of the New Towns built by the post-war Labour Government, providing new model communities, complete with housing people could afford, decent employment options, and large amounts of leisure space.

Although Crawley had initially been planned for a population of 40,000, that figure was quickly revised upward until by 1969 a final population of 120,000 was being discussed. While the figures from last year’s census have yet to be published, it is very likely that the results will show we have now hit that figure. Despite this and the fact that the town is now built up to the council’s boundaries, it seems likely that development will continue on our borders, no matter how much the council and residents oppose it.

While Crawley’s motto is ‘I Grow and I Rejoice’, growth can take many forms. Indeed, the motto is paraphrased from the writings of the Roman Stoic Seneca in which he expressed his joy at the personal growth of his interlocutor. It seems clear to me that the growth we now need in Crawley is in improving the quality of life within the town.

The area which has the potential to make the biggest impact is in improving the quality of employment opportunities in the town. Even before the pandemic Crawley had the lowest social mobility in the whole South East region and with thousands of jobs lost due to the lack of Government support during the pandemic, the importance of attracting employers who will provide real career paths, with decent pay and working conditions, alongside providing the training necessary for people to grasp these opportunities has never been more critical. This is something the council are fighting to deliver and will continue to do so for as long as Labour remains in administration.

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