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COLUMN by By Cllr Geraint Thomas, Crawley Borough Council (Lab, Northgate): Help to get our town seen in a positive light

People have different opinions about how well living in Crawley compares to other places. I know that people living in nearby towns disparage Crawley. A recent report called ‘Cities Outlook 2013’ (www.centreforcities.org) compares 64 of the largest British ‘cities’ including Crawley. Horsham and Haywards Heath are not included in the 64 but Brighton and Worthing are as are London, Leeds and Cardiff.

People have different opinions about how well living in Crawley compares to other places. I know that people living in nearby towns disparage Crawley. A recent report called ‘Cities Outlook 2013’ (www.centreforcities.org) compares 64 of the largest British ‘cities’ including Crawley. Horsham and Haywards Heath are not included in the 64 but Brighton and Worthing are as are London, Leeds and Cardiff.

Crawley is mentioned as a city with:

*Relatively high average house prices

*The third highest percentage of properties in the three highest council tax bands

*Relatively high growth in house prices since the crash in 2008

*The best recovery of all cities from the recession since the initial downturn in 2008-9

*The seventh best start up rate of new businesses in 2011

*The seventh highest number of business for every 10,000 people and a recent growth in business numbers when nationally there was a decline

*The fourth highest employment rate

*The sixth lowest percentage of people on Jobs Seekers’ Allowance (JSA)

*The second highest ratio of people working in the private rather than the public sector

*The second lowest proportion of working people with low skills

*The second highest average earnings along with (unusually) real earnings growth 2011-12

*The lowest inequalities within it (measured by variations in JSA take up) of all cities

So Crawley, along with other cities in South East England, is a relatively good place to live and work and it seems to be coping with or even recovering from the recession better than most. Easy access to London, Gatwick airport and the motorway and rail networks helps. This is not to say that there are not problems and challenges in Crawley but more that other parts of UK are far worse off and that we are relatively fortunate.

If Crawley had been measured against other cities by other criteria such as availability of and access to parks and open space, countryside, leisure, cultural and shopping facilities, I suspect we would also compare favourably. Such availability is the direct result of careful initial planning and continued public and private investment over about six decades.

Sometimes I feel not that Crawley gets a bad press but that it gets no press at all - given its position outside the media centres of London and the south coast. I hope that this report will help to get Crawley noticed more and for our ‘city’ to be seen in a positive light.

 

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