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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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Crawley College to reopen following incident

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Crawley College will be beginning a phased reopening to students from tomorrow, Thursday 29 April.

The phased reopening will take place between tomorrow and Tuesday 4 May with full details by courses provided on the college website www.crawley.ac.uk . Students should check details before returning to campus.

The campus has remained closed for the past two days following police investigations into the incident that took place at the college on Monday (26 April).

Vicki Illingworth, Principal of Crawley College, said:

“We are looking forward to welcoming our students and staff back to the college.

“We’d like to reassure everyone, the college is safe and they will be well supported in their return to the campus.

“Sussex Police have confirmed that this is being treated as an isolated incident which is not terror related and nobody else is being sought in connection with the incident.  The individual concerned is in police custody and has been charged.”

“We are now focussed on ensuring we can bring students and staff safely back on site. We’re proud of the service we provide to our students to give them opportunities in education and training.

“I can reassure everyone that this was a one-off incident and we have strategies in place to keep everyone as safe as possible, as well as giving the students the support they need to come back and join us to complete their studies successfully.”

Vicki also echoed her earlier comments, paying tribute to the staff who supported students who were on site during the events of Monday afternoon.

She added:

“I continue to remain full of admiration of our team. They pulled together on Monday and implemented all of the protocols we have in place to keep students safe.

“They’ve continued to work together to support each other and their students over the past couple of days – and they will continue to do so when students return to campus.

“We are also particularly proud of the two members of staff who acted so bravely and swiftly to apprehend the individual before the police arrived. They acted selflessly to protect their students and the college community. They have asked for privacy during this time.

“It was a very intense time for everyone involved.

“The students who were kept inside the college and who were part of the emergency evacuation were supported throughout by our staff and counselling services have been available to them this week. These services will continue to be in place for them to access.

“We’ve continued to be in touch with our students through our support services to check that they are ok and we will resume face-to-face counselling as soon as we can.”

Work is taking place at the college campus to repair some damage which was sustained during the evacuation and subsequent investigations, with teams working hard to ensure the campus is ready for reopening.

The college would like to thank students, staff, the Police and Emergency Services and the wider community for their ongoing support and understanding.

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