A wonderful tribute to Crawley

Mayor's column
Mayor's column

I had a very pleasant visit to the Metrobus Office in the Town Centre by County Mall to Launch the Safe Haven scheme.

Metrobus, have been so very supportive of Dementia Friendly Crawley and are a major partner in the Crawley Dementia Alliance, their decision to make their waiting room and enquiry office into a Safe Haven is a wonderful step forward for Crawley. Staff from Brighton and the region joined staff at Crawley and partners from the Dementia Alliance to officially launch the scheme.

The scheme aims to offer anyone who feels vulnerable when out and about in Crawley a place where they can go where it is warm, and safe and know that they will be met with a friendly face, a cup of tea and reassurance and help if needed to get home or make contact with a relative of carer. It maybe that a person has been a victim of crime and the Safe Haven is less intimidating than the police station, and help will be given to contact the police and report an incident. This scheme will also support people living in our community with dementia and help them to stay independent.

The rest of this week was taken up with preparations for the Civic Dinner and Dance which was held at The Hawth on Saturday. After months of planning Hayley my PA and I were tying up the loose ends in readiness for this annual event. The evening started with the children of Our Lady Queen of Heaven RC School choir singing in the Foyer as guests arrived. The children’s lovely smiling faces and bright singing voices got everyone in the mood for an enjoyable evening. I am very grateful to the Children, their Choir mistress Rosemary Robinson and Liz Alfieri the parents for bringing them and their head teacher Tobias Melia.

240 guest arrived and enjoyed cocktails before sitting down to a 3 course dinner which was beautifully prepared and served by The Hawth catering team organised by Wendy.

About 120 guests were from the voluntary sector and we were very pleased to thank them for the amazing work they do in Crawley all year round, this evening was an opportunity for them to relax and have time for themselves. The remaining guests had very generously paid to attend the evening and support my Charity Alzheimer’s Society - Crawley Services. The highlights of the evening were the two entertainers who both gave their time freely for my charity.

We were mesmerised by the wonderful playing of Warren Mailley-Smith. Warren played for my Civic Dinner in 1991 when I was Mayor before and he was still at Hazelwick School. I was so honoured that now he is an International renowned pianist he was willing to come and play for us again. He has played around the world but enjoys The Wigmore Hall, he also plays at Gatcombe Park and Carnegie Hall.

Warren has also agreed to perform at The Hawth on May 2nd 2015 in aid of my charity. Tickets are on sale now and this is one evening not to miss.

I was then so proud to introduce yet another famous son of Crawley who is now famous for his stand up comedy and was a former teacher at Hazelwick School Romesh Ranganathan for half an hour he performed his own brand of humour, which had the whole audience rocking in their seats with tears running down their faces with laughter. What a wonderful tribute to Crawley and how marvellous that this Town can produce and be proud of the finest talents in such different disciplines.

A wonderful raffle with 20 prizes donated by local companies followed, an Auction which included a bottle of Vintage Port 1978 (the year I was first elected to Crawley Borough Council) and a bottle and chocolate Tombola kept the guests trying to win prizes and of course adding to the charity fund. Although I do not have the final figure for the evening it is likely to exceed £3,250. Thank you to everyone who made it such a wonderful occasion.

After a rest on Sunday all but one, members of the Council attended an Extraordinary meeting of the Council at which the only item for discussion, was the Council’s response to the Airports Commission on a runway for the South East. The result of the debate has already been published, and I have no comment as Mayor to add to that, but I would like to pay tribute to the officers of Crawley Borough Council who have worked for months on this very controversial subject and have remained professional and focused throughout. I would like to say what an excellent debate it was, with almost every one of the 36 Councillors present speaking about their considered views.

With a free vote across the chamber it was clear that every member had studied the reports and bids by Gatwick Airport and Heathrow Airport. I was also pleased to see a full Public Gallery and compliment them on their focus through the debate. Clearly not everyone is happy with the decision, but for those who attended they were able to see a clear and democratic debate and decision made.