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It was ‘All Onboard’ for Crawley Mariners Junior Helm Week

The 2019 OnBoard Junior Helm Week at Crawley Mariners saw 65 young sailors take to Hedgecourt Lake near Felbridge for lots of fun and sailing in all different wind conditions.



The week in July was entirely run by volunteers, and marks one of the highlights in the calendar for young Crawley Mariners.


Daniela Campbell from the club says:

“As usual, Hedgecourt Lake served up a variety of wind and weather conditions meaning there was plenty of opportunity for capsizing. Our sailors dealt with all of these conditions brilliantly. If you have not seen it yet, you should come and have a look how quickly Topper sailors can get back into their boats after a capsize.”

This year included a trip up an imaginary African river for Oppie dinghy sailors, to see what creatures were hiding there. For the Topper sailors raft building was on the agenda. Anything from upwind sailing and mark rounding to the ever-popular whistle game was included in the programme.

Daniela adds:

“A big thank you goes to the large number of volunteers who have helped to make the week a success: organisers, instructors, safety boat crews, galley staff, registration and everyone who has lent a hand. This would not be possible without you.


“We are all looking forward to the next edition of Junior Helm Week in 2020!”

Run by the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), OnBoard is a grass roots programme which introduces sailing and windsurfing to young people aged 8 to 18, through schools, youth groups and training centres. 

RYA OnBoard centres offer low cost sessions designed to promote equal access to sailing for young people from all social and economic backgrounds, whilst encouraging their character development.

Since 2005, OnBoard has introduced more than 900,000 children to sailing and windsurfing in the UK, converting some 70,000 of them into regular participants.

Crawley Mariners in an RYA OnBoard Centre, an RYA Recognised Training Centre, and a British Youth Sailing Recognised Club.

For more information about how to get involved in sailing visit


With a possible 10,000+ new homes coming to Crawley how can pollution levels be controlled?



Let me begin by saying I am no eco-warrior. I have no passion to paint up a placard and march across the country waving it around claiming we are all doomed. I am more than happy to instead drive, yes drive to the local drive-thru and pick up a meal to then watch the news of others doing the protesting.


But like millions of others like me I am also aware there is an issue and I almost need to be ordered into doing something about it.

We have all heard the arguments surrounding the use of the emergency runway at Gatwick including those about whether there would be an increase in pollution levels.

No doubt those against the increase in air traffic at Gatwick will use this story as another PR exercise to try to demand that it never happens, but this is a pollution story that many will not be aware of.

Crawley is, compared to other local authorities across the county, one of the smallest. In-fact it only covers 45 Sq Km but due to its commercial district and proximity to the airport has one of the largest employment densities in the country.

This obviously means that there are a lot of commuters coming in and out of the town every single day, including weekends and so it can be considered little surprise that the towns Nitrogen dioxide levels are above average.


Crawley Council instigated an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) to monitor the levels. The area, indicated in blue below shows the small area, particularly along roads, that it covers.

This was setup in 2015 however and the council have ever since been working on ways to lower the pollution levels.

BUT when you look at the latest report published by Crawley Council (click here for the report) in 2019 and in particular at the section on ‘Actions to Improve Air Quality’, there seems to be a noticable lack in awareness of where the problems lie by the suggested remedies.

An AQMA is put in place to cover a particular area for a reason. It is designated that the placement of the AQMA is that this is the area that needs most addressing. With this in mind note that the area in question is the main arterial road entry into the town. It covers the A2011 dual carriageway which leads down from the M23 and then splinters off into four main roads into and around the town.

Now look at the Councils proposals:

A local cycling and walking infrastructure plan, a local transport strategy setting out better connectivity, walking, cycling and electric vehicle infrastructure, grant funding to schools and businesses on education and more support and advice on emissions including the implementation of a free messaging service to alert local people with breathing problems of any issues.

Sounds all very good, doesn’t it? But how does any of that address the area concerned. Let me explain. Commuter A lives in Brighton. He drives up the A23 then M23 to Junction 10 where he then takes the dual carriageway into Crawley and then into Manor Royal for his work. He is not going to walk nor take his life into his hands cycling along the dual carriageway. His business may hand him a leaflet about car emissions but he has no interest in receiving an eAlert about polution so sets about his working day before he drives home to his family whose children do not go to school in Crawley and therefore get no education on the pollution problems in the town.

The point is that on paper the actions proposed sound good but in practical terms will not really address the issue.

A council spokesperson said:

“Crawley Borough Council acknowledges that the Highways Team at West Sussex County Council can do little to instantly reduce traffic on the affected busy roads in our town. As a consequence, and while such measures are formulated, we have to look at education, behavioural change and planning controls to reduce emissions and encourage modal shift from personal car use to more sustainable forms of transport.

“This isn’t going to happen overnight – it will take time. We are using a multi-tool approach using a range of actions to bring about behavioural change.

The Crawley Growth Programme is investing in improving sustainable transport infrastructure including better connectivity at key transport interchanges like Three Bridges which will enable someone travelling from Brighton to take the train and connect to bus or walk or cycle to Manor Royal. In addition, connectivity enhancements at the major railway station of Crawley, Three Bridges and Gatwick will greatly facilitate commuter access to Manor Royal and the town centre via sustainable transport connections.”

Yes there have been some small indications that people are starting to make a difference. A few primary schools working in conjunction with Sustrans have managed to stop a few parents from driving their little ones in to school. But I did question the suggestion that it was making such a huge diffence that it warranted the embelished headline given in their recent press release.

And this is where it leads to the proposal of 10,000 new homes. Be under no illusion, the majority of them will be owned by someone with a car. This means more pollution pushed out and into the lungs of those who are already suffering here.

But we do need homes. There is huge demand and they must be built. The question is how can Crawley cope with such a huge new influx if it can’t cope with the levels it already has?

Now there has been a suggestion that the AQMA be extended across more of the town but how will this really help? All it is likely to do is to give more evidence to what we already know about the Nitrogen dioxide levels.

With everyone turning to electric vehicles in ten or so years time then a lot of this will be addressed but what about the present time?

One suggestion that has been banded around is the idea of spreading out new houses into areas that are no so built up as Crawley has become. It is certainly an idea worth consideration, particularly if areas proposed don’t have an AQMA in situ already. Just take a look at the huge open spaces around Horsham and further afield.

It was always going to be the case that people in Ifield would object to the plans for a mini town to be built next to them but when you look at the data being produced, questioned and reported on by the local authority itself then you do start to wonder what the thinking is other than a monetary one and once that idea starts to take over then you do question the ethics.

The public will get their chance to question the council about this proposed development but it’s not going to be what is asked, nor what the reponses are and to be honest not even what the final decision is that will be what to watch. It will be how whatever is decided is justfied and pollution will be a major factor in that.

But for now, protests continue and petitions will form as most of us will sit back and watch from afar, that is until we get a text alert when it gets a bit poisonous outside.

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