Agenda item

Councillors' Question Time (continued)


Name of Councillor asking question

Name of Councillor responding


Councillor Charatan to the Leader of the Council


I understand there is something happening with the Ask building - is there any information about that?







Councillor Jones (Leader of the Council)


The property has been on the market for some time, since Ask went into administration during lockdown. I am pleased to be able to share that we have received a very recent offer from a restaurant operator which is being considered by officers at the moment. Hopefully we will have a new tenant very soon and the building will be back in use, which we would all like to see.


Councillor Pendlington to the Cabinet Member for Public Protection


Please could we have a brief update on how the Car Cruising Public Spaces Protection Order is going?



Councillor Y Khan (Cabinet Member for Public Protection)


So far there have been no complaints and there have also been no fines issued, but I can look into it further. If you are referencing Pound Hill and Gatwick I am aware of those.


Councillor Russell to the Cabinet Member for Housing/Leader of the Council


On Saturday 2nd March we have a community consultation about the possibility of some small-scale housing development on Bristol Close. Knowing that there is a strong desire from residents for their voices to be heard, would one or both of you be able to attend that public consultation alongside myself so residents feel they are being listened to?


Councillor Irvine (Cabinet Member for Housing)


I would be happy to attend if it would help. However I would assure anybody who attends that whether I or Councillor Jones are there or not, their voices will be heard through the consultation process. Nothing has been decided yet as it is only the consultation phase so I would urge people if they are concerned one way or the other about the scheme to please let the Council know by taking part. This will enable us to consider all points of view and better decide what to do in the future.




Councillor Burgess to the Leader of the Council


I was interested to see that we now have a Tree Strategy. However I was a little concerned at the recent OSC meeting at which the strategy was discussed that there appeared to be some confusion as to what was actually being promoted. You did appear to be a little confused at the meeting in response to the questions - so, will all trees on the Council's land, once removed, be replaced as like for like, one for one, and native species to this country? Would this apply to Council-owned trees only, or also to other trees on Council-owned land? If not would these trees be left instead for natural regeneration?


Supplementary question:


I am worried about the trees in Hawth Wood. That is the Council's land and the trees have been decimated - who will replace them? Is that the responsibility of the Forestry Commission or of the Council, or will they be left to regenerate themselves, which will take decades?




























Councillor Jones (Leader of the Council)


Ordinarily it would be the Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change who would answer questions relating to trees but as I was deputising for the Cabinet Member that evening at the OSC meeting, I'm happy to answer. I think the question was related to potentially non-viable trees, such as those that have sprung up in areas that are not ideal growing territory for those trees. The Council is very committed to maintaining the tree canopy right across the borough but we are constrained in that we only have control over the trees on our land. Inevitably that involves working with private land owners and other land owners including public authorities. I don't feel that there was any attempt to obfuscate what the Council is trying to do - we have never had a proper tree strategy that was formalised and accessible by councillors or members of the public, but we have a great story to tell about the borough's trees. Inevitably there will always be pressure on where trees could be grown - we are very keen to have a community-based facility where members of the community can call for trees in an appropriate area, but we would have to have control over the land in some form. The good news is that there is plenty of Section 106 money to cover the cost of purchasing and planting trees. We would like to hear from the public and want to make Crawley even more green and pleasant.


Answer to supplementary question:


Sadly some of the ash trees in Hawth Wood have been struck by ash dieback which is a brutal disease. The council has not taken the loss of these trees lightly and it is heartbreaking to know how many have been lost. However this has been done to try and safeguard the rest of the woodland. It is not going to kill off as many as the arboriculturalist first thought, but it does mean that a lot of trees will be lost. We have a problem in that Hawth Wood is ancient woodland and there are restrictions.  Whenever there has been disease and removal of trees in the past, our tree surgeons have been very clear that trees cannot be replanted in the same location for some time. Perhaps we could take this discussion offline as it is quite a technical area, and I am sure we can work with yourself and with Cllr Noyce as Cabinet Member if there is anything you have in mind.


Councillor Pritchard to the Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change


Some improvements have been made to the footpath along the Gatwick stream between The Snooty Fox pub and Hazelwick Avenue - there has been a lot of tidying and smartening up which I believe was not done by the Council. Will you commit to keeping it clean and tidy, and to repairing the fences along that walkway to make it a safe and pleasant place to walk?


Councillor Noyce (Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Climate Change)


I will be in communication with the patch team and will be seeing them soon, and will pass on your question and comments with the intention of trying to fulfil that.









Councillor Lanzer to the Leader of the Council


Page six of the Crawley Labour Party's 2023 manifesto states that 'we will not outsource any further local services'. Yet during the current Council year we have seen officer reports and presentations which have contemplated the outsourcing of Council services. I cannot be any more specific as these were in private session. What are your intentions - will you be standing by your manifesto, and if not, why have you got officers working up options for the outsourcing of services? Are you planning to assume a dose of pragmatism and abandon your manifesto, or is your manifesto true?


Councillor Jones (Leader of the Council)


I would have to have a look at exactly what was written in our manifesto. I think the specific commitment was that wherever practicable, and in line with what we were attempting to do, that we would look insourcing services. However we have many existing services which are already outsourced, which I suspect is what Cllr Lanzer is referring to. I can't help but refer back to the elephant in the room, which is that the Council has to live within its means - there are a lot of things I would like to do in this borough but there are issues relating to money. As a result we take decisions on a case-by-case basis.






Councillor Ayling to the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Wellbeing


The sandpit in Bewbush pocket park has been out of action. Please can you let us know when it will be repaired?





Councillor C Mullins (Cabinet Member for Leisure and Wellbeing)


Unfortunately the sandpit was closed due to structural damage which made it unsafe for children to play in. It can't be reopened until the repairs are complete and it is refilled with sand - I have not got a timescale but I can check that and let you know.  The intention is to refurbish it as soon as possible.


Councillor Ali to the Mayor


At a previous Full Council meeting I asked about the portrait of King Charles III. Today I walked past the Mayor's Parlour and saw that portrait on display. In most other councils, these portraits are in public view, for example in the council chambers, for residents to see and enjoy. Would you consider displaying the portrait in public view, and if not, why not?


Councillor Hart (Mayor)


The one that is in the Mayor's Parlour, as far as I'm aware, will be staying there. But another portrait has been issued which we are in the process of applying for. That is going to be the standard one that will go into public places. That is in the process of being ordered to be framed to be put up I hope in a public area.





Councillor Ashraf to the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development


I understand the Local Plan consultation has concluded. How did it go and have we received any initial response from the inspectors?
















Councillor Nawaz (Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development)


Our Local Plan went through an intensive examination led by two Planning Inspectors from the Government. I would like to commend our officers on their professionalism and the brilliant way in which they coped with the hearing sessions and the volume and breadth of questions they had to deal with. We have received an initial letter from the inspectors with some good news. They have confirmed that our local plan is legally compliant. They have asked for some modifications and officers have worked very quickly on those so the Plan is out for consultation already, having begun on 12 February with an end date of 25 March. We are hoping to bring the Local Plan to Cabinet and to Full Council in the summer for consideration and adoption. Water neutrality was the main matter that halted the Plan, but now we are in a position to approve it.