Crawley council urges Government to help ‘worst affected’ economy

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's Malcolm Shaw

Community leaders in Crawley have called on the government to step in to avoid what they call an "economic catastrophe".

The Leader of Crawley Borough Council and the town’s MP have written to the Government calling for urgent help and listing 10 interventions to rescue the town’s economy.

This follows the recent Centre for Cities report, which forecasts that Crawley will be the most affected economy by the coronavirus crisis.

The report predicts that more than 50% of jobs are considered 'vulnerable' or 'very vulnerable' to the effects of Covid-19.

Gatwick Airport Credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire/PA Images

It comes at a time when British Airways has warned staff there is "no certainty" of the airline returning to Gatwick Airport after the coronavirus pandemic.

In a message to employees, British Airways' Managing Director of Gatwick, Adam Carson said: "We suspended our Gatwick flying schedule at the start of April and there is no certainty as to when or if these services can or will return."

Many people in the area of Crawley work for firms connected to nearby Gatwick Airport.

Leader of Crawley Borough Council, Councillor Peter Lamb and Henry Smith MP have written to the government outlining their concerns for the town.

The letter states: “It is quite clear that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the national economy and indeed the world economy is unprecedented. However, due to the business sectors located within the town, and the proportion of local jobs and economic output from these sectors, Crawley is undeniably being hit far harder than any other part of the United Kingdom. These sectors include aviation, transportation, retail/wholesale, leisure and hospitality, all of which are likely to continue to struggle long after the lockdown is lifted."

The council says the town's economy grew by 23% between 2013 and 2020, the highest in West Sussex, contributing 26% of the county’s economic output.

Councillor Lamb said: “Crawley generates £124m of business rates each year for the Government from its local business community. A massive economic downturn in Crawley will prove very costly to public finances. We’ve been helping the public purse for decades – it’s now time for the Government to repay that help."

The Government says it is providing an additional £1.6 billion to local authorities so they have the resources they need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Crawley has been allocated a total of £1,185,859 and West Sussex allocated a total of £36,430,238 to continue providing essential services and support to those who need it the most.