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Crawley Council’s embarrassing U-turn after trying to charge fee for kids to walk through park

Plans for a schools charity walk almost had to be changed after council wanted to charge for walking through a park.

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Every year the students and staff at Ifield Community College take part in a sponsored walk to raise money.

It is called the Sarah Robinson Commemorative Sponsored Walk and takes the school from their site through to Tilgate Park and then back to the school.

This year however the school hit a problem. After informing the council of their route they were then presented with a fee.

The Council wanted to charge a fee of £234.50 to allow the school through Tilgate Park.

Immediately alarm bells rang and the school hit out questioning why such a charge was being applied and that it would have to come out of the funds raised by the students and affect the charity.

More questions were raised when Tilgate Councilor Francis Guidera stepped in after hearing about the issue and it was discovered that other activities such as the regular Sunday Park Run never gets charged by the council.

ICC put out a public statement on their facebook page explaining the situation and adding:

“We strongly believe this is very uncharitable and so therefore are looking into changing our walk.”

But local Cllr Guidera would not accept the decision of the council and took it upon himself to get it changed, even adding:

In one response to the schools post he said:

“I have spoken the Leader of the Council, Peter Lamb, with whom I get on well despite our political differences, and explained that the council does not charge Tilgate Park Run for the use of the park EVERY WEEKEND and that it is completely unacceptable to charge our own children to use a public park!!!”

The issue started to viral across social media through the town and the tension with residents around this grew steadily until finally the councillors efforts came to fruition as a post from Crawley Borough Council appeared as a response to ICC 7 hours after theirs.

It read:

“We have looked at this again and, while we have applied our policy correctly, we recognise that it does not necessarily cater for events such as this.

We have therefore taken the decision not to apply any charge for this event on this occasion. We will now reconsider our fees and charging policy for events to ensure a consistent and fair approach can be applied moving forward.”

An embarrassing u-turn but it has done more than question certain decisions the council make. To many it will actually demonstrate just how effective the community and their local councillors can be.

Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb said:

“As soon as the issue was raised with me I ensured it was dealt with. Policies sometimes have unintended consequences and part of the role of councillors is to step in when that happens, which is what we’ve done here.”

Charity

Gatwick Express team gives cash boost to Crawley charity

The Gatwick Express team has given a local charity a cash boost following a number of staff fundraising initiatives in recent months.

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Maria Cook, Chair of Autism Support Crawley (left) takes delivery of a 'rail ticket cheque' from Gatwick Express managers

Autism Support Crawley, which supports children and adults on the autistic spectrum, has been given a generous donation of £1,931.15 thanks to kind-hearted Gatwick Express staff who have taken part in a series of activities at Gatwick Airport Station, including cake sales, a Christmas jumper competition and bucket appeals.

Station staff were delighted to be able to hand over a cheque to Autism Support Crawley on Tuesday, May 21 to the chairperson of the charity, Maria Cook.

She said:

“We are thrilled to receive such wonderful support from everyone at Gatwick Express.

“Their response to the voluntary work that we do for over 1,200 families across Sussex and Surrey is overwhelming. This will go a long way in helping us to continue to support families and work with lots of different professions to improve understanding, acceptance and inclusion in society,”she added.

Gatwick Express staff were inspired to support the charity after hosting a group from Autism Support Crawley for a ‘Try a Train’ event, during which autistic young people and adults were shown around the station to help them become more familiar and confident when travelling by train, as well as how to buy tickets to support more independent travel.

Gatwick area station manager David Stronell said:

“We’re really proud of all the work we have done to help the charity. The whole station has been involved in the fundraising.

“Since we started supporting the charity, it has sparked a lot of conversations and a lot of staff have talked about having children on the autistic spectrum. It has brought us all together and got people opening up about autism, which in turn has raised awareness for us all,” said David.

Charity trustee, member and service user Charlotte Gover said:

“The amazing donation from Gatwick Express will support so many of our families by enabling us to continue to provide information sessions, conferences, coffee mornings, evening meetings and much needed inclusive family events.”

Staff at Gatwick are now gearing up for their next fundraising events so watch this space!

This month also marks the 35th birthday of Gatwick Express and there have been plenty of activities going on to celebrate the occasion.

For more information, visit:http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/govia-thameslink-railway/pressreleases/gatwick-express-staff-celebrate-35-years-of-operations-2872525

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