Crawley’s MP and the leader of the borough council have appealed to the government for help to stop 70 years of the town’s economic success being wiped out.
With the aviation industry taking a huge hit due to the Covid-19 lockdown – and a Centre for Cities report forecasting 57% of jobs in the town were at risk – Henry Smith and Peter Lamb have written a plea to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and others.
The letter said: “We must ensure that Crawley’s amazing economic success, built up over many decades, is not lost in a matter of weeks.
“Above all, it is critical that as many of Crawley’s residents as possible are able to retain their jobs and livelihoods. This will not happen without a major programme of government intervention to mitigate the worst effects of this crisis.”
An economic crisis in Crawley would spread ripples throughout the county, it is predicted. The town’s economy grew 23% from 2013-20, providing 26% of the economic output in West Sussex, despite representing 2% of the land.
Over the same period, it boasted the second highest job density outside central London, with jobs growth rising 13.5% to 101,000.
In their letter, Mr Smith and Mr Lamb laid out a ten-point programme needed to rebuild the town’s economy.
It included: a major programme of investment in infrastructure; business relief and support for Gatwick Airport and firms run on the site; grants to local businesses to enable them to retain staff; and an improved benefits system to recognise the high cost of living in the area.
They also asked for targeted support and relief for high street and retail businesses to help them adapt to the post-crisis economy.