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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 Airport firefighters raise over £2,300 running runway marathon

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A group of firefighters from Gatwick Airport Fire and Rescue Service have raised more than £2,300 for local NHS charity SASH, by completing a relay marathon run on the airport’s main runway.

Thirteen members of White Watch took turns to run 13 lengths of the 3.3-kilometre runway on Sunday morning, along with Rebecca Howells, a nurse from Redhill’s East Surrey Hospital, who completed the run in full uniform.

The initiative was first raised by Firefighter James Buckman, who wanted a novel way to support SASH – the charity for East Surrey Hospital, and all the services provided by Surrey & Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. SASH was chosen by staff at Gatwick as the airport’s new charity partner earlier this year.

Station Manager, Steven Bartlett, who supported James in making the run happen, said:

“We decided running a relay marathon on the main runway would be something a bit different and, with many flights resuming this week, not something we are likely to get the chance to do again.

“The support has been fantastic and we are really grateful to all at Gatwick who have contributed in some way to making this event possible, and of course to all those who have donated.”

Rebecca Howells said:

“I was so excited to hear about Gatwick staff voting to support our hospitals as the airport’s new charity partner, and this run was a really unique opportunity. It was great to be able to help raise some funds and to say thank you to the firefighters and everyone at Gatwick.”

The event also formed part of SASH’s Get Active challenge, in collaboration with Run Series – the organisers of Run Reigate and Run Gatwick events – which asks people to use their allocated daily exercise to help reach a 30,000-mile target, through running, walking, cycling, home workouts or online classes.

Donations are still being welcomed and can be done through White Watch’s Just Giving page. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/whitewatchgatwickfire

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