LETTER: I will not sit on the fence

I am writing to you as an elected member of Crawley Borough Council (Labour, West Green Ward).

In my capacity as a councillor, and in advance of next week’s special Council meeting to consider the council’s position on the proposed additional runway at Gatwick, I have received a great deal of correspondence from Crawley residents, as well as letters and e-mails from people who live outside the area. I could not hope to reply individually to all the comments that I have received, and I would like if possible to respond through the pages of your newspaper.

All those who have contacted me clearly care deeply about our town and the surrounding area, are well-informed, and have thought hard about the issue. The overwhelming majority have expressed grave concerns about the negative impact that the proposed expansion of the airport would have on our town, and these are concerns that I share, both as an individual resident and as a councillor.

It is true that, in the end, the decision as to whether Gatwick or Heathrow get the go-ahead for an additional runway will not be ours to make. However, as elected representatives it is our job to care about what will happen to our town - whether or not a decision is ours to make. In this case, we have an opportunity, as a council, to contribute to the consultation, and I believe it is our obligation to do so. We must consider all the implications, listen to all the arguments, think carefully, and then make a judgement about what is in the best interests of our town. When we have done this, it is then our duty to express our view on behalf of those we represent, and to do our best to make sure that the interests of our town are not ignored. That is the duty that we were entrusted with when we were elected.

As I said, I believe it is our democratic duty to have and express an opinion on this crucial matter. Moreover, I do not believe that all those people who have taken the trouble to write to us as their elected representatives, would want us to shy away from taking a view about something as important as this. I would like to assure all those individuals who have taken the time to write to me, and all those who care about our town, that I take my duty as an elected representative very seriously; I certainly will not sit on the fence over this, or any other matter that affects our town, and I promise to do all I can to ensure that the interests of Crawley people are not ignored, and that our voice is heard.

Cllr Karen Sudan, Crawley Borough Council (Lab, West Green)