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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 community winner is runner up in BBC Heroes Award

A local resident who was a winner in this years community awards has scooped a runners up place with the BBC Heroes Awards.

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The awards ceremony took place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Crawley earlier this week.

Jane Green, the local 2019 Crawley Community Hero winner was nominated and shortlisted from 280 applicants across Sussex, Surrey and NE Hamps.

There were just three finalists and Jane finished as runner-up.  

Delighted with her achievement she said she had no idea about the ‘amazing and yet vast reach’ of the event.  

She said:

“The actual individual stories about the inspiring individual or in some case teams brought tears to the eyes.”

Dame Judi Dench gave a wonderful message to the inspiration Winner, cyclist Patrick McIntosh.  

Jane was and is a carer for her children with medical needs and eldest who is autistic.  She also cares for her elderly parents.  

She has worked helping children and adults with SEND professionally and voluntarily.  

After becoming disabled she dedicated herself to helping those with medically unexplained symptoms that were often ignored and also disabled.

She helps Carers Support West Sussex as a Truste and also volunteers for the national EDS UK Support charity and runs SEDS, Sussex Ehlers-Danlos Support and Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder with positive activities in Sussex.  

Advocating  for #actuallyautistic people in north Sussex and those with visible and invisible disabilities and conditions she ensures that from social care to health,  to transport needs at Gatwick there is ’nothing about us without us’.

www.sussexeds.com

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