Agenda item

Public Question Time

To answer public questions under Full Council Procedure Rule 1.1-E.  The questions must be on matters which are relevant to the functions of the Council, and should not include statements.


One supplementary question from the questioner will be allowed.


Up to 30 minutes is allocated to Public Question Time.


Questioner’s Name

Name of Councillor Responding


Richard Symonds – Ifield Society


Is the ‘Water Neutrality’ Directive from Natural England a ‘show-stopper’ when it comes to large developments - such as the West of Ifield masterplan within our ancient Parish?







































Supplementary Question –


Will Crawley Borough Council support a letter-writing campaign urging Homes England to withdraw their masterplan of 10,000 houses West of Ifield, the first phase being 3500 houses of Ifield golf course and the parish brook meadows?

Councillor Peter Smith –

(Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development)


Natural England is a government agency and they sent the Council a position statement on 14 September this year which was entirely unexpected.  It has an immediate effect on the Sussex North Water Supply route which is managed by Southern Water.  The position statement applies to most of Crawley and Manor Royal and it stops the council approving new applications and giving planning applications where there is an increased water demand implication, which is of course almost all planning applications.  It is preventing affordable schemes from coming forward and stopping people getting their extensions. We need to find a solution and we are cooperating with Natural England, Southern Water and other affected planning authorities to develop a Water Neutrality Strategy which will take some months to put into place. We currently have a large number of household applications that are already affected by this position statement and more coming in, together with major applications for commercial development, which is preventing investment in Crawley and potential employment. In the longer term Southern Water are proposing to install new abstraction facilities.  The majority of the West of Ifield site lies in Horsham district and they will decide the planning application for this site and Crawley will only be a consultee.  I cannot say what effect the Natural England position statement will have, but Homes England is a government agency and there is no guarantee that this will prevent the West of Ifield site development.



Crawley Borough Council would encourage all those who object to the proposals to use every avenue available to ensure their voice is heard by Homes England. That could include a letter writing campaign or more importantly ensuring that they participate in any formal public consultation run by Homes England. It is important to demonstrate objections in numbers and a lack of overwhelming opposition in the public responses is likely to be used as evidence of public support when planning permission is sought.


Mr Khan – Bewbush


In line with the Constitution, the Mayor rejected the question as it related directly to an individual’s case.  Mr Khan was then asked to leave the meeting due to his disruptive behaviour. After initially refusing to leave the meeting, he left the meeting before being excluded.


Child – Broadfield


If we shut down all adventure playgrounds the normal parks aren’t as safe so what do we do?


 Councillor Chris Mullins –

(Cabinet Member for Wellbeing)


We are still about making provision for our children with good provision and facilities in Crawley.  Unfortunately we have to rationalise things every now and again.  We will be having good provision for children and we won’t be closing 2 of the adventure playgrounds, they will be open in an unsupervised way. They will be looked after and children will still be able to go there with their parents. But they will be open for longer than the present facilities. We are looking to do things in a different way for our young people and their families.


Phil Hayes – Langley Green


Councillor Mullins previously mentioned the miners’ strike in 1984, as background to the Play Service, this was flourishing then, there were 11centres which catering for all young people.  I believe today’s people who are now in their 40s benefited from the Play Service. The service is an important part of Crawley’s lifestyle and it helps children’s health and social wellbeing.






Supplementary Question –


How many councillors attended the 2 facilities to actually see what went on?


I believe in the Play Service and I believe in young people. Mental health are Covid are big issues but when children have room to play those issues are reduced. The parents get involved too and the service assists parents as well as the children.


Councillor Brenda Smith –

(Ward Councillor for Langley Green & Tushmore)


Our play centres have and continued to be excellent and support young people in the town and it is vital that we continue to make those provisions for them. It is people like Phil Hayes that make our playgrounds work and who are passionate for keeping facilities for young people. He should be thanked and the other play leaders for their dedicated service.


Two Councillors responded they had visited sites.



Councillor Sue Mullins –

(Ward Councillor for Langley Green & Tushmore)


We owe Phil Hayes thanks especially for Cherry Lane. My children had a fantastic time and life skills.  I want children to continue to enjoy them safely. Long may the adventure playgrounds last in whatever form.


Robin Burnham – Bewbush


Councillor Fiveash opposed the cuts and closures of the adventure playgrounds. He fought and won an agreement from Peter Lamb to keep the equipment in Bewbush and Broadfield adventure playgrounds and to see if within the budget there was a way to keep the adventure playgrounds going.  I would stress that in order to keep the adventure playgrounds going we do need the professionals with jobs to do this and Crawley has the highest level of unemployment. The council’s budget (which comes from us) is available on the council’s website and the public are going to look at ways to find the finance for the sites: it needs to be for all 4 sites. Can I have an assurance from the council that when these suggestions from the public are brought in with regards to the finance to be found that they are considered please?






Supplementary Question –


For clarification was that a ‘yes’ that the council will let the public have its voice?


I live in Bewbush and myself and other residents were not aware of the consultation, not a phone call or leaflet.


Councillor Peter Lamb –

(Leader of the Council)


We did modify the proposal following Councillor’s Fiveash’s request, which amended the decision to ‘mothball’ them as opposed to progress them into something else. We are continuing to try and find ways to preserve all 4 sites or bring some back depending on what options are presented. I would heartedly encourage every person in the community to go through the council’s budget in detail as people will be surprised just how challenging the current situation is. Just over 10 years’ ago we had a budget 3 times that we do now. The fact that we are still able to pick up people’s bins weekly is remarkable. When we consulted that was the issue that residents were most keen on preserving over all other considerations. I am happy for people to look through the budget and we will consider suggestions. This is the first set of cuts carried out in 7 years, triggered by the pandemic and we have not been left with any other option and it is not being done because we want to but because we have to.


We have already allowed the public to have its voice and will continue to do so.  We will consider suggestions but we cannot stop council decisions in February where it will impact on delivery of services and quality of life. 


Leila Mill – Broadfield


It is upsetting for me personally that my children’s future and our children’s future is on the backburner of bins being collected. I didn’t receive any leaflets I didn’t know about the consultation. Phil was to me in my childhood, what these lovely people are to my children.  The importance of the adventure playground being supervised is major and to go and be independent and to learn life skills away from their parents. I can take my kids to any park but the fact that they get to go to these places where there is independence for them to learn is heavenly. Are we going to have something inside the town centre that is supervised similar to previous?


Councillor Chris Mullins –

(Cabinet Member for Wellbeing)


It is not a decision we want to do, and if we were in a different situation we would do things differently. But we are looking at how we can still make good provision for our children. We understand the importance of health and wellbeing and we are looking at alternatives throughout the town.  That’s the reason we are going to run 2 of the sites unsupervised until we can find alternative approaches.  We cannot find finance for staffing all the adventure playgrounds any longer.