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In a week where we’re asked remember the costs and sacrifices of war, it would be tasteless to engage in party politics. Instead, we should use this opportunity to recognise the enduring role of Remembrance in our community. 

Next year is the centenary of the armistice which marked the end of the First World War on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Whilst in the UK, Remembrance is largely observed on the Sunday, for most former Allied Powers commemoration takes place on 11th November. 

Indeed, for its first twenty years, Britain held its main acts of Remembrance on Remembrance Day and it was only WW2 and the need to avoid any loss of weekday production which led to Remembrance Sunday becoming preeminent. 

The fact is Remembrance, in what we choose to remember and how we choose to do so, is not one continuous unbroken tradition back to November 1919. Remembrance Day began as a time for mourning the loss of life during one particular war, a war where most people would have lost family or friends, and over the years it expanded to acknowledge the contribution of all those who had fought in the conflict. The outbreak of the Second World War, gave people cause to remember the loss of life in another war and so it has continued with every subsequent deployment. 

Since the beginning there has been a tension between the importance of remembering and concerns over the risk of glorifying war. Despite the pageantry, I have never attended any Remembrance event where war appeared to be glorified, in fact many services go out of their way to acknowledge the full impact of violent conflict upon all those involved. Yet, I know people who hold this concern and it’s one I respect. 

Yet, the important thing is not your personal view on past wars, whether you attend a service, or if you wear a red poppy, white poppy or none at all, but rather that we take this opportunity to think about conflict and consider all the varied costs and sacrifices it involves.

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader, Crawley Borough Council

Remembrance in our Community

In a week where we’re asked remember the costs and sacrifices of war, it would be tasteless to engage in party politics. Instead, we should use this opportunity to recognise...

Last week, members of Crawley Borough Council had the opportunity for the first time to tour 'Little Trees', the town's new cemetery. 

Located just south of Broadfield, the new cemetery will have space to provide a final resting place for loved ones for the next 50 years. Its design enables it to accommodate burials from all faiths, in addition to woodland burials, in a well-maintained environment. 

The construction of Little Trees follows an increasingly frantic eight year search, as Snell Hatch began to reach maximum occupancy and we faced the threat of being unable to provide somewhere to bury Crawley residents within the borough's boundaries. On becoming Leader, the case was even made to me that the council had no legal obligation to provide a graveyard, yet it was our obligation to the community to provide a place to bury loved ones nearby and not the law which was always my main concern. 

Situating graveyards is difficult. In Crawley, all the land within the town already has a designated residential, economic or leisure use, and every category is in short supply. We couldn't build near to Gatwick as bodies would have to be disinterred in the event of a new runway and there are existing issues with providing such a noisy resting place. Some of the sites we considered were adjacent to nursing homes which would have been somewhat indelicate and you are restricted to locations with relatively low levels of groundwater. 

Nonetheless, following careful negotiation to relocate the Girl Guides to Tilgate Forest, we have found in Little Trees a new cemetery site of which Crawley can be proud. So far, one resident has found a final resting place at the cemetery, long-serving former councillor Keith Blake, a man who dedicated many years to serving the town in a range of roles and who sadly passed away earlier this year. Keith served as Cabinet Member for Environment for much of the eight year search for a new site and it feels appropriate that having passed away he now has the chance to rest in the place he helped to create.

Cllr Peter Lamb,

Leader Crawley Borough Council

 

Fit resting place for Crawley people

Last week, members of Crawley Borough Council had the opportunity for the first time to tour 'Little Trees', the town's new cemetery.  Located just south of Broadfield, the new cemetery...

There is plenty to rightly celebrate about the past, present and future of the Borough of Crawley in its 70th Anniversary year.  In Crawley , we have so many things to be proud of and, nationally, we are also urged to be proud of our apparently distinctive British values.

And yet no more than a couple of miles from the town centre and within the borough of Crawley, a recent Panorama report documented what appeared to be systematic abuse of fellow human beings  at Brook House – human beings who were not serving imprisonment for a criminal offence but awaiting decisions about whether or not they should be allowed to remain within Britain. Brook House ‘Immigration Removal Centre’(IRC) is on the southern fringes of Gatwick Airport. In my view, this programme was shocking and shaming.

Brook House is run on behalf of the Home Office by G4S, the largest security services company in the UK. Around 500 male detainees are held indefinitely at Brook House whilst their cases are considered.

Concern about the content of the Panorama programme has been expressed at parliamentary level by the Home Affairs Select Committee. Televised oral evidence at a recent hearing gave considerable support for the concerns raised by the Panorama programme and a number of G4S employees have since been dismissed.

Evidence given at the Select Committee was that 52% of the detainees at Brook House were released back into the community ie not ‘removed’ from the country at all.. Also it was stated that it is not uncommon for detainees to be released and simply left outside the entrance to Brook House to fend for themselves.

Also, according to evidence given at the Select Committee, each of these detentions costs the British taxpayer more than thirty thousand pounds annually. Many of those detained have lived in Britain for many years – possibly from childhood – and have not committed any criminal offence although others have served criminal sentences and are then further detained for long periods awaiting possible deportation to a foreign country.

A 2013 report after an unannounced visit led by Nick Hardwick, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Prisons, found problems with the provision of legal advice for detainees, a slow pace of immigration casework and high levels of self harm caused by frustration. ‘Although detainees could be out of their rooms for extended periods, they were locked up too early at night, and it was not clear why they had to be locked up at all’

Over a year ago, I visited Brook House and spent an hour or so with a detainee who told me that he had lived in London since childhood but had recently been apprehended and taken to Brook House where he was waiting indefinitely for his case to be considered. Whilst his living conditions were relatively comfortable and he had his own room, he told me that he was locked in his room for 18 hours a day and that his room was unventilated. His main concern was poor access to routine healthcare- despite requests - and when he had been hospitalised in London, he was chained to his bed.

My particular concerns were with Health provision for detainees. I am quite familiar with the work of the Care Quality Commission and saw a report for the ‘Gatwick Cluster’ (at the time, Brook House, Tinsley House, nearby, and The Cedars south of Pease Pottage). Of the three, Brook House is by far the biggest and The Cedars has subsequently been closed. The CQC report from 2014 gave the Cluster a ‘good’ rating across the five categories – but the report admits that it was based only on a visit to The Cedars where paperwork was checked and some staff interviewed – but there were no detainees present to be interviewed! So Brook House – with around 500 male detainees was judged as ‘Good’ based on no evidence whatsoever! There have been no CQC reports since.

As President John F Kennedy said ‘The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened’.

CllrGeraintThomas.JPGCllr Geraint Thomas

Northgate

Proud of British Values

There is plenty to rightly celebrate about the past, present and future of the Borough of Crawley in its 70th Anniversary year.  In Crawley , we have so many things...

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