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Crawley’s Mystic Joe now knows what you do and don’t like

Crawley Borough Council’s six month consultation on arts, culture and leisure saw more than 1000 residents and visitors take part.

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The consultation launched in January and was delivered through ‘Mystic Joe’, an interactive fortune teller booth created by Crawley born computational artist Joe McAlister.

Throughout the consultation, Arts and Community Development Officers and the Wellbeing Team took Mystic Joe to venues across the town including Crawley library, The Hawth, K2 Crawley, Children’s and Family Centre, community centres and events including school fetes and neighbourhood fairs.

Creative Producers for the consultation, Louise Blackwell and Naomi Alexander organised further focus groups with local businesses, young people, education providers and local cultural groups and artists.

Participants were asked a range of questions that focused on identifying gaps and gathering information on how arts and culture can be improved in the town, including:

  • What regular leisure and creative pastimes do you have?
  • If you don’t attend events and activities in Crawley, what are the reason(s) for that?
  • If you had the chance, what new creative and/or leisure experiences would you like to try in Crawley?
  • What is the most successful creative and/or leisure activity you have participated in or observed? Why did it work?
  • What’s missing from the creative and/or leisure offer in Crawley?

A report based on the huge amount of data and feedback is currently being compiled and will be available later on in the year.

From this, further work will include the creation of an arts and culture strategy for the whole town.

Cabinet member for Wellbeing, Councillor Chris Mullins’s said:

“I am delighted at the number of responses we have received to this consultation and the positive reaction to Mystic Joe. The feedback will play an integral part in informing the arts and culture strategy, something which the whole town will benefit from in the future.”

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Crawley library in danger of losing opening hours as County Council choose money saving over services

Another public consultation and this time it is about reducing opening hours for the library.

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Crawley library users are being asked to share their thoughts on proposed budget savings which would see a reduction in opening hours at Crawley Library.

The consultation running from 9 October to 13 November 2019 is, according to the council, aimed to help inform the decision due to be taken by West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member, Jacquie Russell, in November. 

The suggested savings include for Crawley to:

Reduce the evening opening hours in the library by one hour (from 7pm to 6pm) from April 2020.

This change, along with the same reduction in hours at three other Sussex libraries along with the ceasing of the mobile library service would apparently result in a total year on year saving of £175,000.

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said:

“Since becoming cabinet member, I have often been asked about what will happen to libraries across the county. As I have said before, we need to look at doing things in a more affordable way, but ultimately my aim is to preserve the core of the library service.

“With the suggested savings being proposed, we hope that the other services we have on offer at libraries across West Sussex will diminish any negative impact to users. 

“However, I still want to hear the thoughts of our library users by way of this consultation, especially those who are specifically affected by the proposed budget savings, as this will help to shape and inform my decision in November.”

But Crawley residents will be all too wary of consultations and how they can be just lip service and completely ignored as recently happened with the consulation over the Post Office move into County Mall.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“When West Sussex County Council Leader over a decade ago, I was pleased to procure and open the new Crawley Library, which ever since has been an important community resource. I would encourage all who care about our library to engage with the Council’s consultation and call for evening opening hours not to be reduced.”

You have until 13 November 2019 to have your say.

To find out more and fill in the consultation, visit haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries/libraryoffer/

CN24 approached Jacquie Russell for a guarantee that if the results of the consultation came back that there was a majority against the reduction in hours that she would keep the library open till 7. A response has not yet been received.

But West Sussex County Council did respond saying:

“This is a live consultation and we encourage residents to have their say before the deadline of 13 November. After the consultation has closed, the responses will be taken into consideration before any decision is made.”

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