One of the advantages of living in a large town like Crawley is that we have a large number and a wide variety of facilities for our leisure time. Over the last 20 years I’ve seen a considerable improvement in what Crawley has to offer.
Going back a bit further, Crawley’s Hawth Theatre is now 30 years old. The Hawth is widely well-regarded as an excellent facility here in Crawley, as well as being popular and drawing in people from our surrounding towns and villages.
The Hawth is owned by Crawley Borough Council and opened in 1988 after being proposed by the Council in 1986. Over the years, I have seen the local Labour party play politics with The Hawth many times. Their mantra usually goes something like this: ‘Labour built the Hawth and it’s under threat from the Tories, only voting Labour can save The Hawth ‘. As usual with Labour’s scaremongering and misrepresentation of the Conservatives in Crawley, this is of course complete nonsense.
It was a Labour-run Council that built The Hawth but many Labour Councillors voted against building it when the Council took the decision. It took the support and votes of Conservative opposition Councillors to ensure The Hawth was built.
Crawley’s Conservative Administration of 2006 - 2014 invested strongly and made many improvements at The Hawth. In 2012 we brought in the new management of Parkwood Theatres, who are experts at running theatres. I remember the Council meeting that approved this, when Labour Councillors staged a childish walk-out from the meeting.
Since 2012 The Hawth has gone from strength to strength and become even more popular in Crawley, with ticket sales up 45% in six years. This ten-year contract has not only improved the running of The Hawth, it saves Crawley Council Tax payers £250,000 every year, meaning that in three years’ time, we will have saved £2.5 million over a decade, enabling other services to be protected. Crawley’s successful Hawth Theatre is an achievement for the whole town, not one political party or the other, although Labour have always politicised our town’s leisure services.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
23rd January 2019