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Fortnightly bin collection, cutting support to community & increasing fees proposed as Crawley Council tries to fill £1.2m shortfall

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There was always going to be a shortfall. Despite receiving £1.4m from the government, Crawley Council say the coronavirus pandemic has had such a huge impact on the town that there is now a huge shortfall of £1.2m.

Even more worryingly this gap is expected to grow to £1.7m within a year.

The council says with the closure of attractions, leisure facilities and even car parks, their income has diminished and combined with an increase in expenditure for the towns most vulnerable residents it has widened the gap further.

Now the council is having to take action and they openly admit that it is ‘highly’ likely that council services will have to be reduced.

According to the council they have already managed to save £500,000 internally and that was without the need to reduce or even remove any services.

But with such a large gap still to fill now they are proposing drastic action.

In a statement the council says they are proposing:

·       Reviewing waste services, potentially moving from weekly to fortnightly rubbish collections and considering the introduction of a weekly food waste collection. This would increase our recycling rate, helping the council move towards our aim of being carbon neutral by 2050 and saving taxpayers’ money

·       Post-Covid, reviewing the support the council gives to the community and the voluntary sector. We currently spend more in this area than other districts and borough councils in West Sussex

·       Closing or reducing the operating hours of public toilets

·       Reviewing adventure play, moving to a more flexible model of delivery

·       Reviewing the number, type and specification of cricket squares, bowling greens and croquet lawns

·       Where appropriate, pricing our fees and charges accordingly so that costs are covered.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said:

“For the last six years, Crawley Borough Council has bucked the trend. Despite huge cuts to local government funding, every year we have managed to generate enough new revenue to make up for the cuts without having to put council tax up above inflation. Due to the pandemic, that is no longer possible.

“Throughout the lockdown, the money-making parts of the council were forced to shut, while various new costs arose. Unfortunately, the financial consequences will last long beyond this one year, with the economic impact resulting in a significant ongoing cut to the council’s income from business rates and council tax.

“As a result, for the first time since I became Council Leader we are having to make real cuts to balance the budget. We will do everything we can to make savings humanely and minimise the impact on frontline services, but there will be real consequences for service delivery.”

The council is asking for residents views on the proposed savings in their four-week consultation.

Visit crawley.gov.uk/consultation to have your say.

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Gas leak repaired as 700 Crawley residents evacuated after major incident declared

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A gas leak that caused the immediate evacuation of 700 Crawley residents in flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley has finally been repaired sources have revealed to CN24.

The emergency services responded to a major incident at a large block of flats in Milton Mount Avenue, Crawley at around 12.21am this morning (Wed 6th Jan).

The nature of the leak was so severe that it was declared a ‘major incident’.

A multi-agency response was implemented and Sussex Police worked collaboratively with partners including West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service, West Sussex County Council, Crawley Borough Council and Southern Gas to resolve the incident as quickly and safely as possible.

Approximately 700 residents were evacuated and placed in temporary accommodation including hotels.

A source within the emergency services said:

“I have never seen the evacuation of that number of people done so quickly!”

While sources say the gas leak has now been repaired, they added that it will be some time before residents can return due to the need to allow the gas to dissipate.

This has meant that hundreds of residents are now split up across the town in various hotels and shelters awaiting a return to their homes which could take many hours to resolve.

Detective Chief Superintendent Steve Rayland said:

“This is an ongoing incident which has caused huge disruption to hundreds of people on a cold January morning, and I’d like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to work with our partners to minimise the ongoing disruption.

“We are working hard to ensure this is dealt with as soon as possible to enable everyone to return home, however this may take several hours yet. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to stay away from the area to allow the responding agencies to focus on resolving the incident to allow residents to return home.

“The exact cause of the gas leak is yet to be determined but not believed to be criminal, and we will provide more information as soon as we are able to.”

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“The council declared a local authority major incident, supported by all partners, in the early hours of this morning.

“Staff worked together to manage the safe evacuation of residents and to transport them into the temporary accommodation, which was arranged around the town.

“This is an unsettling time for Milton Mount residents and their families. They will be able to return to their homes as soon as it safe for them to do so.”

Milton Mount residents should call 01293 438758 with any questions. Any non-residents with any concerns should call our Contact Centre on 01293 438000

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