My first event of the week, was to welcome Anna Pincus and a colleague from the Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group who brought a marvellous tapestry to display in the Town Hall for a week.
The tapestry depicts the thoughts and images of many organisations, groups, schools and individuals in Crawley. Hands clasped in friendship, footprints, maps of Africa, flags and colours of nations. Each one carrying a message to support the GDWG and the work they do. Befriending and visiting detainees who are awaiting deportation back to maybe a hostile Country or release on licence into the UK to await a decision on their asylum application, for more information about the Group visit their website www.gdwg.org.uk
Wednesday was the Budget setting Council meeting at the Town Hall. It started with a minute silence for Honorary Alderman and Freeman of the Borough Bert Crane followed by several warm and sincere tributes from both sides of the Chamber remembering Bert’s support, friendship and kindness to new Councillors no matter what political party they were from.
His great breadth of knowledge and total focus on Crawley. An excellent debate on a Motion supporting the reduction of the voting age to allow 16/17 year olds to vote was carried after very interesting contributions from several cross party Councillors. A small group of members of the Crawley Youth Council were in the public gallery to hear the debate. I was very pleased to visit the 1st Class Learning’s open day at Maidenbower Pavilion. Extra education courses in English, and Maths are offered to children from 4 to 14. An interesting range of learning modules and resources are used. 1st Class Learning already organises classes in Northgate and has 18 pupils attending.
Finally on Saturday afternoon I was very pleased to join a large gathering of Leaders, Scouts, Cubs, Beavers and their families for the long awaited opening of the ACORN the new headquarters of the 2nd Ifield (St Margaret’s) Scouts Group.
This project has been underway for 18 years and has of course changed in concept, size and provision since the beginning. The Group now have a state of the art building which will last them for many many years. It includes a large space for storing canoes and kayaks and also space where tents will be able to be hung and dried( a real luxury after a camping weekend or pack holiday). A mezzanine floor for storing equipment and all the essential items that will enable 2nd Ifield to ‘Be Prepared’. A fully fitted kitchen office and classroom, together with a magnificent hall, where the flag can be raised and opened and standards displayed. Eventually this hall will boast its own climbing wall. Approximately £300,00 has been raised. Two people were singled out Brian Eastman, now Group President - Group Scout Leader at the start and David Clipperton - Group Secretary who has been project manager. Congratulations were paid to them, and they in turn thanked all the parents. Leaders and members who had given so much to ensure the Group reached the position it is in today. A truly remarkable achievement.
After the speeches and the official opening ceremony by The High Sheriff of West Sussex, Jonathan Lucas, when he unveiled a plaque to commemorate the day. Visitors were able to view the building and enjoy activities organised by the groups dedicated Leaders. Badge making, candle painting, crossbow shooting, climbing and abseiling. Tea sandwiches and cake rounded off a superb afternoon. Congratulations to everyone involved, how fortunate the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts of today and the future are.