Earlier this month I wrote to the Chief Executive of Crawley Borough Council to officially register my support for our community’s bid for city status in next year’s Civic Honours Competition, which is being held to mark HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
City status would be a fine way to mark the 75th anniversary of Crawley as a post-war New Town, which is now less than two months away.
Three quarters of a century ago, it was confirmed that Three Bridges, Ifield and the small market town of Crawley would be brought together as one community. Every neighbourhood in Crawley, old and new, holds its own distinctive features yet retains its civic pride for our local area.
The importance of Crawley is felt way beyond the boundaries of our borough. Our economic reach is felt throughout the south east with Crawley proudly at the heart of the Gatwick Diamond.
Prior to the pandemic, Crawley contributed over a quarter of West Sussex’s economic output, despite being just two per cent of the landmass. Indeed, before Covid-19 struck, the number of jobs in Crawley had also grown to reach a record 101,000, the second highest job density nationally outside central London.
Our area has been hugely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as have airport communities around the UK. To address this I established the Future of Aviation All-Party Parliamentary Group to stand up for this sector and all those who work in it, including people locally at Gatwick Airport and beyond. While we are seeing progress now in the right direction there is still more to do.
Studies suggest that a successful bid for city status has the potential to bring further investment and employment opportunities. Indeed, newly created cities have a tendency to outperform other areas with regard to economic performance; through factors including increased investment and additional job prospects.
With Gatwick Airport the busiest single-runway airport in the world, and Crawley’s rail and active travel links, we are an important tourist hub with more than 45 million visitors entering the town annually prior to Covid-19.
Crawley has been a business, travel and cultural hub for the south east for some time now. Our Borough’s motto of “I Grow and I Rejoice” can continue to be fulfilled with the granting of city status.
Indeed, this is a subject I highlighted in Parliament in 2017 and I raised the bid at Prime Minister’s Questions last week.
What may not have been picked up on following my question was that a Labour MP heckled the Prime Minister while he gave his answer. Such comments may be a regular occurrence from the opposition benches but I cannot allow their negativity to get in the way of my standing up for Crawley in Parliament.
Henry Smith MP