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More business rates to be kept local and pay for gigabit broadband

A successful bid to keep more business rates in West Sussex, supported by Crawley Borough Council, will enable residents and businesses to access gigabit broadband.

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The bid, to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, to keep 75 per cent of business rates collected in West Sussex – instead of the current 50 per cent – was one of 15 successful applications out of 35 nationwide. This means that there will be an additional £19.1m retained in the county annually from 2019/20. However, this will be spent on improving digital infrastructure as we are unable to use it to help with Crawley Borough Council’s financial challenges.

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

“This is good news for the digital infrastructure of the county and, once complete, the ‘spine’ will enable residents and businesses to connect to a full fibre network.

“Crawley has the biggest economy in the county and must benefit from this successful bid. However, this money is not extra for individual local authorities and will have very little impact on our finances, which are getting more challenging every year. Much is made of announcements like this but it will have no impact whatsoever on council finance or the services we provide.”

A digital ‘spine’ will be created alongside railway lines, to avoid digging up roads. A full fibre network will be laid from which residents and businesses can access gigabit broadband.

The spine will accelerate investment in and deployment of further new digital infrastructure by reducing barriers to investment in full fibre access networks and new wireless technologies.

The network will run along the Arun Valley railway line, from Ford to Three Bridges, the Brighton Mainline from Three Bridges to Brighton, and a coastal route from Brighton to Ford.

Crawley is the economic powerhouse of West Sussex. The town occupies just two per cent of the land but collects around 35 per cent of the county’s business rates. The town generates more than £120m in business rates each year but keeps only £6m; 10 per cent goes to West Sussex County Council and the rest currently goes to central government for redistribution.

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20 new jobs created as Argos to open new store inside Sainsbury’s West Green, Crawley

The store opens tomorrow (July 26th).

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The expansion of Argos stores within Sainbury’s continues with one now opening inside Crawley’s West Green store.

With huge pressure from online stores Argos has had to find a way to survive and its partnership with Sainsbury’s has seen the store evolve considerably.

Argos is now relying on what they call their ‘market-leading Fast Track Delivery and Click & Collect‘ and says that around 20,000 products can be ordered for same day collection in store and for home delivery in as little as four hours.

The new store will also have a Pay@Browse area with tablets that allow customers to make purchases for their products instead of the old catalogues and paper/pencil combination.

Martin Cawdry, Sainsbury’s West Green Store Manager said:

“We are thrilled to welcome the Argos team and even more fantastic colleagues to our store in Crawley.

The opening is great news for our customers, who are always looking for easier, more convenient ways to shop. We look forward to offering them an exciting range of products at fantastic value.”

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