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Crawley MP backs Gatwick Freeport bid

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Henry Smith MP has reiterated his backing for the proposed Gatwick Freeport as the bid is officially submitted to the Government earlier today (Friday, 5th February).

Proposals sent to ministers by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership would place the ‘Gatwick Freeport’ in the Manor Royal Business Improvement District in Crawley.

With Gatwick Airport traffic declining by 93 per cent due to the devastating Covid-19 pandemic impact, the Crawley MP, who last year established and continues to chair the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group, has thrown his support behind the proposals.

Henry said;

“Gatwick along with Manor Royal are important drivers for the local economy and employment which also represents a significant net contribution to the UK as a whole.

“However the Covid-19 pandemic is at real risk of levelling down the area, therefore with the now opportunities of global Britain, a Freeport based on Gatwick and Crawley’s Manor Royal business district has the real potential to build back better, stronger and more diverse, enhancing regional and national wellbeing.

“This is a plan I’ve been pleased to champion in Parliament and I whole-heartedly back the bid!”

Last month in a question to the Exports Minister, the Crawley MP urged the Government to support the Gatwick Freeport proposal.

Freeports are an important part of the Government’s post-Brexit agenda for international trade, with successful bids benefiting from generous tax reliefs, simplified customs procedures and wider government support.

These new hubs of business and enterprise will create thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s growth.

The project reiterates the importance of Crawley to the local and wider economy. The Manor Royal Business Improvement District provides 30,000 jobs (40 per cent of Crawley’s total employment), with the town providing 45 per cent of all employment in the Gatwick Diamond.

The Manor Royal Business Improvement District is already home to a number of high tech, high innovation businesses such as Thales, LG and Elekta.

Freeport status would support the safeguarding and creation of jobs, and help the recovery of the aviation sector.

The Local Enterprise Partnership and Manor Royal have secured the support of not only the local MP, but West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council as well. Proposals could be developed immediately if the bid is approved, leading to big rewards for the local economy.

The Government are expected to announce 10 successful bids by spring of this year.

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Crawley’s buses to be fitted with anti-virus filters

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Anti-virus air filters are being fitted to every bus on the Brighton & Hove and Metrobus fleet, as an added measure to further reduce the risk of Covid transmission.  

The new filters have an anti-virus coating and remove 99.99%* of viruses and bacteria, as air flows into both decks and the driver’s cab. Air is already regularly refreshed on buses with doors opening at stops and windows open and this is an extra safety precaution.  

Engineers have fitted the new air filters on every bus and converted the whole fleet of 400 buses within just one month. These filters will continue to be used as standard within the regular replacement programme.   

Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director Martin Harris said: “The new filters are a welcome addition to the safety measures we already have lined up on buses to defeat the virus, alongside high cleaning standards, face coverings, social distancing, keeping windows open and paying by contactless.  

“Our engineers have been working round the clock to fit these filters so that our passengers can feel even more confident that they are travelling in a clean and safe bus. A good flow of fresh air is increasingly being recognised as one of the most important protections against Covid alongside ‘Hands, Face and Space’ and these filters are an important step.”   The PEPA-F HVAC filters were developed by Filtration Control and train builder Bombardier and capture particles in the air that might contain pathogens and virus such as Covid-19. 

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