Neighbourhood forums raise community spirit in town

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Community spirt is alive and well in Crawley – and residents are being invited to join the party.

Members of the town’s neighbourhood forums got together at the town hall last Tuesday (October 8) to compare notes and exchange knowledge.

Almost every neighbourhood in the town has established a residents’ forum, the exceptions being Tilgate, Furnace Green and Maidenbower – though Maidenbower has a thriving online community –and between them they have proved that people power can really make a difference.

Crawley Borough Council community development officer Toby Shaw said: “Forums, through participating in consultations, have shaped decisions about improvements to neighbourhood parades and other community facilities. Many forums set the local policing priorities for their neighbourhood policing teams. ”

One constant which runs through the groups is that many were launched due to an ongoing issue, such as parking or development.

The Three Bridges team – who got together in 2009 – have become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to issues involving their neighbourhood.

Chairman Lillian Kirby-Comber said: “We have had local council members and our local MP to interact with us at the Full Forum meetings.

“This has given us the opportunity to influence the council regarding the planning and development of the area and we are now involved with any plans put forward to ensure it is in character with this mixed dwelling area.”

The Southgate Forum has been one of the most successful when it comes to attracting speakers about relevant issues.

On Thursday (October 10), residents welcomed James Colman, Gatwick’s director of corporate affairs to answer questions about proposed expansion at the airport.

The Northgate Matters team, who were named ‘best newcomers’ at last year’s Let’s FACE It! awards are preparing for their AGM, which will be held at the Civic Hall on Thursday October 17, at 7pm. All residents are invited to attend.

Dennis Williams, the sole member of the new West Green forum, hopes others will join him and said: “I hope to pursue the campaign for a new doctors’ surgery and offer our views on the development of the land where the old Fairfield House was located, amongst other things.”