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Crawley’s youngsters miss out as Hawth panto chooses dancers from afar

No fairytale for Crawleys dancers in this years local pantomime as majority of cast are anything but local



We may be in the middle of summer but thoughts are already out there for this years Panto and with Crawley it is expected to be another fantastic production.

So it has come as a bit of a shock that when the list of young dancers who auditioned for a role in this years panto was announced, only one third of them were from Crawley itself.

24 dancers were chosen but only 8 actually live in the town while the rest live up to almost 40 miles away.

When the auditions took place the response from ‘local’ performers was immense with almost 200 youngsters turning up to audition.

A statement from the producer of the show said:

‘We had an incredible turn out at this year’s auditions, the standard was higher than ever. It’s almost a shame we only needed 24 dancers as I’m sure we could have cast many more from those who came along! Those who have been selected are the best of the best, they will be a real asset to the Aladdin cast’

But those who reside in the town have gone a step further and asked why so few of those cast are from the town itself.

“I dont think this is right” – Councillor Chris Mullins

One parent who asked to remain anonymous for fear of it affecting her daughters chances in the future said:

“Isn’t a local panto for the local people and that includes casting locals as well?  I’m not trying to stop other young children from having a chance to perform but don’t they have pantos in their own town?”

The full list of locations was released as a press release saying the performers were chosen from Crawley and the surrounding areas but as the list illustrates the term ‘surrounding’ appears to have lost its meaning.

Whilst Horsham, Horley, Balcombe and East Grinstead are considered local to the town, the locations outside of these the performers are from are (approx distance by car):

Brighton and Hove – 22 miles
Chislehurst – 31.4 miles
Bromley – 37.6 miles
Westerham – 21.4 miles
Heathfield – 27 miles
Carshalton – 21 miles
Coulsdon – 17 miles
Burgess Hill – 14.6
Sutton – 23.8
Shoreham-by Sea – 26.7
Southwick – 23.7

A spokesperson from The Hawth said:

“The Hawth’s pantomime is enjoyed by thousands of people from across the town and beyond, and this is reflected in those who come along to the producer’s open auditions each year.

Almost 200 youngsters danced their hearts out this year and the final 24’s talent really shone through on the day.

The producers select the dancers on merit and do not know where they are from while they are dancing, ensuring they choose the best possible dancers to create the high quality pantomime people expect from The Hawth.”

But questions are still being asked as to why the ‘open’ audition was available to such a wide geographical area.

Councilor Chris Mullins who is Cabinet Member for Wellbeing said:

“I’m very surprised that they didn’t run local auditions for local kids and they would have easily have got the quality of dancers that were needed. “

“What they have done is effectively forced parents from a long way away to bring their child all the way down to our town which surely is not good for the environment or even for the children.”

I think our local dancers put a lot of time and energy and perhaps money into learning the skills they have got and I feel as though they may have been overlooked and I dont think this is right.”

“I would call surrounding areas Horley and Balcombe but the others are no-where near us!”

A spokesperson from Evolution Productions who is producing the panto this year was unavailable for comment.



Crawley gets housing boost as council get £6.4m grant

Two major housing projects have been given a boost after Crawley Borough Council received final confirmation that it has been successful in applying for a government grant worth more than £6m.



The £6.4m grant from Homes England’s Housing Infrastructure Fund will help unlock another 620 new homes in the town.

Telford Place in the town centre will receive £2m to bring forward development while £4.4m will go towards infrastructure that enables new homes to be built in Forge Wood, Crawley’s newest neighbourhood.

As part of the council’s housing development plans, key town centre site Telford Place will receive funding to provide an alternative access to the site, which had only supported up to 100 units. This additional access will enable more than 200 extra homes to be built.

The council announced in August that Clarion Housing Group had been selected as its preferred development partner to deliver 313 new homes. These will be a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments on the 1.85 acre site, which is currently used as a temporary car park.

Around half of the homes will be available for private sale, with the remainder consisting of shared ownership homes and 87 council homes charged at affordable rents.

Clarion held consultation events in October and November in the town centre, giving residents more information about the proposed development and answering their questions.

A planning application is expected to be submitted by the end of the year, with a view to starting on site early in 2019.

The £4,423,280 funding will be spent on an acoustic barrier and commercial building at Forge Wood, which will allow the development of 420 residential units, including 183 affordable units. These will be a part of the 1,900 residential units which make up the neighbourhood. Of these, 760 will be affordable units.

Councillor Michael Jones, Cabinet member for Housing at Crawley Borough Council, said:

“We are determined to provide as many new homes as we possibly can; this confirmation of funding is a major step towards 733 units being built. This will make it easier for us in our efforts to significantly reduce the numbers of households on our waiting list here in the borough.

“Our ambition is to deliver more than 1,000 new council homes for people in Crawley over the next few years and this funding is helping us towards that.”

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