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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

Crawley firefighters undertake marathon walk in memory of fallen colleague

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Some of the team from Crawley Fire Station with the training mannequins.

Firefighters from Crawley Fire Station are preparing to make their way to the seaside on foot in memory of a much-loved former colleague.

But the 20 firefighters won’t be completing the walk to Brighton seafront on their own, as they will be carrying a few training dummies with them, weighing in at around 30kg.

They will be raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity and The Stroke Association in memory of former Watch Manager Simon Constable who passed away in April 2019 having suffered a stroke. Simon served with WSFRS for 29 years.

The crew have been busy training for the 30 mile walk, which they will complete on Saturday 8 August, and are hoping to smash their fundraising target along the way.

Green Watch Manager Neil Fairhall said:

“With it almost being the summer holidays, we thought what better way to raise some money for two fantastic causes than a jolly down to the seaside? Though I imagine after a couple of miles in carrying those training dummies, the walk will be anything but jolly.

“But the whole point of this fundraiser is to push ourselves, and hopefully raise a decent amount of money for The Fire Fighters Charity and The Stroke Association.

“Both charities mean a lot to us at Crawley Fire Station – The Fire Fighters Charity provides a real lifeline for serving and former firefighters in their hour of need, and The Stroke Association does some fantastic work to support those affected by stroke. Having lost Simon last year, this is extremely poignant for us as a watch and station, and we hope to raise a worthy amount in his memory.”

The challenge comes after all fire stations within West Sussex were challenged by Station Manager Phil Maynard to come up with innovative ways of raising money for The Fire Fighters Charity, which supports serving and former firefighters as well as their families in times of need.

Phil has set the county’s 25 fire station’s the ambitious target of raising £25,000 by the end of the year for the charity. Already, the East Grinstead crew have managed to raise £1,670 for the charity after climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest in the station yard.

To support the Crawley crew in their fundraising efforts visit: https://www.justgiving.com/team/Crawleyfirestation?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=team&utm_content=Crawleyfirestation&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet&utm_term=d18daf1ece7847a8b62aaeec665ad509 

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