Crawley city status bid could help ‘regenerate a sense of civic direction and pride’

Seventy-five years after becoming a New Town, Crawley is to apply for city status.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 11:19 am
Crawley town centre. Pic by Steve Robards

The idea received unanimous approval during a meeting of the full council on Wednesday evening (October 20).

The Civic Honours competition was launched as part of the celebrations to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee – and the council had a clear message for her: “Seventy-five years ago, you made Crawley a New Town.

“In that time, we have grown to become a regional powerhouse.

“Imagine what we can achieve if you made us a New City.”

As part of the bid, a consultation is being held to hear from residents and businesses about what they love about our town and what makes them proud to be here.

The consultation starts today (Thursday October 21) and will run until Thursday November 18.

Visit crawley.gov.uk/citybid to take part.

Crawley has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic – a fact that has been well documented – and the hope is that applying for city status will help give the town a much-needed shot in the arm.

Council leader Peter Lamb said: “It would be very hard to think of a better way of trying to regenerate a sense of civic direction, to regenerate a sense of civic pride moving forward.”

Mr Lamb said Crawley had applied for city status three times before.

He added: “Crawley’s history is the history of the late 20th and early 21st century. The way in which our town [has brought] change over that period of time really reflects the development and growth of the country at that time.

“We’re a major regional hub of economic, social and cultural activity that really requires some recognition.

“It cannot be right that West Sussex at this time only has a single city – and that was by an ancient designation as opposed to any modern perception of what a city might well be.

“Crawley is certainly leading the way in terms of this county and what it delivers for the communities that it serves and I think it would be a fantastic thing for us.”

Bob Lanzer (Con, Pound Hill South & Worth) described Crawley as ‘the world in one borough’ when it came to diversity.

As for the economy, he pointed out that, in non-pandemic times, the town had brought in 35 per cent of the county’s business rates despite only having two per cent of the land.

If the bid is successful, Crawley – whose motto is ‘I grow and I rejoice – could become the first New Town to be granted city status.

It would be quite the gift for the New Town’s diamond anniversary.

The closing dates for bids to be submitted is December 8. The government will announce the winners of the competition in early 2022.