Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 27th December 2017

As we run down 2017’s final days, it’s worth taking time to review the year just passed.

January marked Crawley’s platinum anniversary, with a programme of events taking place over the course of the year.

In February, the council approved plans to redevelop the Town Hall to provide a modern Civic Centre, including 250 new apartments, high grade office accommodation to fund services and a low carbon energy facility.

March saw Natalie Brahma-Pearl appointed Chief Executive of Crawley Borough Council, the first woman to hold the role.

The opening of Tilgate Nature Centre’s latest attraction, the Madagascar Zone, took place in April, with more zones opening over coming years.

County Council elections were held in May and despite the national picture, local voters chose Labour representatives in five out of Crawley’s nine divisions, narrowly missing a sixth following extreme boundary changes.

June saw the surprise General Election, and Labour gaining significant ground. In Crawley, Labour are now less than 2,500 votes of regaining the seat.

In July we discovered the town’s Clinical Commissioning Group had been placed in Special Measures due to financial difficulties. The CCG are responsible for funding our healthcare and we continue to wait to see what this means for accessing treatment.

I was pleased to welcome Jeremy Corbyn to Crawley in August. Following his well-publicised assistance to a lady taking a pram over its railway bridge, Crawley station has now been promised suitable improvements for those with mobility issues.

September saw the Local Enterprise Partnership approve a £14.6m regeneration bid for Crawley, opening up an event greater amount of private investment.

Cllr John Stanley passed away in October. He is greatly missed.

In November, Crawley was declared to have the South East’s poorest social mobility and I tasked the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to investigate and identify solutions.

That brings us all the way to December and at Full Council this month we purchased a site which will provide the last of the 1,000 affordable units we committed to build four years ago. That’s not the end of it though, so long as there’s a need we’ll keep building.