Traders’ bid to improve High Street area ‘blighted by anti-social behaviour’

TOWN centre businesses have decided ‘enough is enough’ and vowed to improve their part of the High Street.

The old area of town, off of the Broad Walk, has been neglected over the years and is blighted by anti-social behaviour according to business-owners.

A determined coalition of businesses, councillors and authorities are coming together to create an action plan to improve the area.

They want a family-friendly plaza area, free of anti-social street drinking.

Options such as repainting railings, adding shrubbery and taking benches away will be considered at a meeting on Thursday morning (May 17).

The joint plan comes months after a Horsham councillor sparked a debate after likening parts of Crawley to a shanty town.

Karen Methven, of Crawley and Gatwick Business Watch, said: “The trouble is the town has a negative image because of street drinkers. The problems they cause have quite a big knock-on effect. This is the business’ way of taking back the area. We need more people to stand up to it and say ‘you’re not welcome here’.”

Rachael Hughes, manager of Brewey Shades, said: “We would like to see the square turned into a thriving, family friendly area and shopping plaza where people can relax, eat, drink and enjoy the quaint and quirky local businesses around.

“It has so much potential and we would love to see more people enjoying the area and see it bought back to a beautiful part of this historic High Street.’

Davina Davey, owner of Jill’s Sewing Room, said: “Everyone forgets about the original side of town where it all started. It used to be so clean and tidy but it’s just been neglected.”

Amanda Stearn, of Riva Women’s Salon, said: “We’re finding a lot of ladies aren’t coming down here with their kids. We need to bring business back, it’s got to be family-friendly.”

Deputy leader of Crawley Borough Council Cllr Clare Denman (Con, Pound Hill South and Worth) said: “The bottom line for businesses is ‘enough is enough’.

“The police have worked hard to resolve the problem with street drinkers but what has failed is we haven’t all got together and tackled it as a joint entity.”

Leader of Crawley Labour Group Cllr Peter Lamb (Northgate and Manor Royal) said: “Like every town centre, Crawley has its issues but as a vital part of our economy and community it’s important that all groups come together to help improve the area and confront the local problems that we face.”

Chief Inspector Steve Curry, Crawley divisional commander, said officers make daily patrols and tackle anti-social behaviour and street drinking with a range of measures such as dispersal orders, curfews and ASBOs.

He added: “We are dedicated to ensuring that anti-social behaviour within Crawley is tackled at every opportunity and in particular where vulnerable people are targeted.

“We believe in early intervention to prevent a minor issue becoming a problem and having an impact on people’s quality of life.”