Celebrating our heritage while facing up to today’s challenges

As Leader of West Sussex County Council I was delighted to deliver a new Crawley Library for our town in 2008.

This building is an example of how Crawley has grown and regenerated over the last 70 years, since its designation as a new town on 9th January 1947.

Earlier this year in the House of Commons I suggested that we should receive city status – an aspect I’ll still look to pursue.

I’ve a great love of history, and it’s been fascinating to see the display at the Library of pictures from the late Roger Bastable’s collection.

I was particularly taken by the original town map, which saw the coming together of Three Bridges, Ifield and the small market town of Crawley.

The communities of Southgate, Gossops Green, Langley Green, Tilgate, Northgate and Pound Hill were all included in the original plans. Neither Bewbush, Broadfield, Furnace Green nor Maidenbower featured on the 1947 map. Our town is now more than twice its originally envisaged size.

While celebrating our heritage is important, we must also face up to today’s challenges, such as access to housing and parking, as well as pressures on local health services and schools.

Just last week I spoke in Parliament to mark our town’s milestone anniversary and to highlight these causes that local and national government need to continue turning their attention towards.

Crawley has much it can be proud of. Facilities such as The Hawth, Tilgate Park, County Mall and K2 bring in people to our town from far and wide. We’re the home of Sussex’s only Football League club and in Gatwick we have an international airport which continues to increase its offer to passengers.

Shops and businesses start here, thrive here, expand here and move here. A number of these are based in and around Manor Royal and I’ll keep working to ensure more of the jobs and apprenticeships available at these world-leading firms in Crawley go to people from the local area.

I’ll continue to be Crawley’s voice in Westminster and keep putting our town’s interests front and centre.

Henry Smith MP