Health, policing and trade on the agenda at Crawley Question Time

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Crawley decision-makers discussed their plans for anti-social behaviour, health care and the town centre economy at a public event.

Some 60 townspeople heard from leaders from the borough council, Sussex Police, Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)and Crawley Young Persons Council at Crawley Question Time at the Hawth Theatre on Wednesday (February 4).

Dr Amit Bhargava, the CCG’s chief clinical officer , disagreed with a member of the public’s suggestion of charging people for missing GP appointments. He said the town needed to take responsibility over the waste.

He said better partnerships were needed to help vulnerable people. He added co-ordination between public and voluntary services would save money.

Chief Inspector Justina Beeken said it was ‘essential’ community groups and police worked together ahead of ‘painful’ cuts which were to change how policing would be delivered in town.

A member of Crawley’s Neighbourhood Watch said communication between the voluntary group and Sussex Police had decreased.

CI Beeken said the force was testing powers under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 after Three Bridges residents expressed concerns.

Cllr Peter Lamb, council leader, and Cllr Duncan Crow, the opposition leader, defended plans for the town centre.

Cllr Lamb said the council was putting together an ‘economic development’ team to improve trade and other projects. The £3m Queens Square redevelopment was to focus on housing and leisure facilities.

Council action on empty units was limited because it did not own most of the buildings in the area.

Cllr Lamb said their owners had no long term plans for the spaces because keeping their rents high increased the value of their property.

Cllr Crow said: “We want it to be an attractive place where people want to come.”

Cllr Chris Oxlade, cabinet member for Community Engagement, suggested it would be used to show classical music concerts.

Sam Trumpeter, Crawley Youth Council’s vice chairman, said young people wanted leisure facilities in the square.

A young member of the audience said the museum to be built in The Tree and Annexe in the High Street, which volunteers use to help homeless people, would only benefit the privileged.