Friends of Tilgate Park Meeting

A Message from John Dale regarding the next Friends of Tilgate Park Meeting

Dear All,

The next friends of Tilgate Park meeting due to take place on Tuesday 22nd November in the Civic Hall from 6pm.


Please note this meeting is open to all residents of Crawley and beyond who are interested in being part of a friends of Tilgate Park group.

Many thanks
John Dale
Community Development Officer

phone tel (01293) 438188

Crawley Borough Council
Town Hall
The Boulevard
West Sussex
RH10 1UZ

phone tel (01293) 438000
fax fax (01293) 511803

GACC Press Release – Heathrow Expansion

From the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
26th October 2016

You will have heard the news that the Government has decided to support a new runway at Heathrow.

We believe that this decision will be final: when it comes to a vote in the House there is likely to be a majority for Heathrow, and despite all the stories in the press the Government statement has been carefully drafted to avoid the scope for judicial review.

You may like to see our press release –


Thank you for all your support.

Brendon Sewill
Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign

For more information about Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign
phone 01293 863369

Alternatively contact directly
phone John Byng 01293 537234
phone Peter Barclay 01293 862821

Crawley News – Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Loses Out Over Extra Runway
Government backs Heathrow – but bosses say they’ll keep trying
26th October 2016 – Crawley News


By Dave Comeau

GATWICK lost out in its bid to build a second runway as the Government announced yesterday that Heathrow can progress its expansion plans.

It had long been thought, since the Airports Commission backed Heathrow in a report in July 2015, that Gatwick would not get the nod. However, it is felt by many that this does not spell the end of Gatwick ’s own proposals.


Lost Out: Gatwick Airport


Waiting for take-off Planes at Gatwick Airport (photo Jeffrey Milstein)

The announcement was made at about 11.40am with the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling calling the decision “truly momentous”. It will be the first full length runway to be built in the South East since the Second World War.

A draft national policy statement (NPS) will now be put together for a public consultation.

Mr Grayling said: “A new runway at Heathrow will improve connectivity in the UK itself and crucially boost our connections with the rest of the world, supporting exports, trade and job opportunities.

“This isn’t just a great deal for business, it’s a great deal for passengers who will also benefit from access to more airlines, destinations and flights. ” He added that Heathrow can only
build a new runway on the basis that a “world class package of compensation” is put together, worth £2.6 billion.

Jeremy Taylor, chief executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, still feels Heathrow ’s proposal for a third runway is not deliverable and that Gatwick will eventually be given permission for a second.

Speaking about the announcement, he said he was “disappointed but not surprised”. He added: “The main thing to remember is that we’re looking at an announcement of a direction which will then need to go to consultation.” It is unclear exactly what the decision means for Gatwick’s future in the long term and that of Crawley.

Safeguarded land around the airport to allow its expansion could remain protected against development to leave the door open for a second runway in the future.

About 21,000 people work at Gatwick, of whom around 2,500 are employed directly by Gatwick Airport. There are estimated to be about another 10,000 jobs created indirectly by the airport.

Gatwick ’s immediate future does not appear to be under threat.


In a promising sign, budget airline Norwegian said it will still be pushing forward with its own plans to expand at Gatwick.

A spokesman said: “Norwegian has always backed Gatwick as the right choice for the UK’s next runway. “Our plans for huge expansion at our Gatwick base and other UK airports remain unchanged and 2017 will see even more new routes and new aircraft in our UK operation.”

Crawley MP Henry Smith said: “I think Gatwick will continue to thrive as the alternative airport to Heathrow. It’s extremely popular in terms of cost and the holiday markets.

“I’ve recently had a meeting with Norwegian who are expanding their routes from Gatwick and easyJet have done something similar. New routes to the Far East and the US have recently been added. Even though Heathrow has been chosen, I think there is a bright future for Gatwick Airport.”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, criticised the decision and said he would find a way to challenge it. Mr Khan, who visited Gatwick in July to call on Prime Minister Theresa May to allow a second runway to be built there, said: “This is the wrong decision for London and the whole of Britain.”

He added: “An expanded Gatwick would have boosted our economy without causing huge air and noise pollution problems and it could be built quicker and cheaper. I will continue to challenge this decision and I am exploring how I can best be involved in any legal process over the coming months.”

Gatwick serves 42 million passengers a year travelling to 220 destinations, making it the busiest single runway airport in the world. It is expected to reach its capacity of 45 million passengers in the next few years.

Gatwick ’s chief executive, Stewart Wingate, said in a statement they would be studying the Government’s reasons behind opting for Heathrow and that it still intends to expand.


He said: “We are disappointed as we do not believe this is the right answer for Britain. Gatwick has put forward a credible plan for expansion. “It is a plan that can guarantee growth and guarantee certainty for Britain.

“The challenges facing Heathrow have not changed. Our message today is that Gatwick stands ready to proceed when the time comes.” Expansion costs at Heathrow will be paid for by the private sector, not by the taxpayer.

It will be for the Manor Royal-based Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), as the independent industry regulator, to work with Heathrow Airport Ltd and airlines operating at the airport, on the detailed design and costs to ensure the scheme remains affordable.

The government has said it does not want the cost of expansion of Heathrow to hit the pockets of the public by driving up the cost of flights.

What happens next?

  • The Government will put together a draft national policy statement (NPS) setting out why it believes Heathrow is the right option for airport expansion
  • This will be published in the new year before a consultation is held in which the public and MPs will have a chance to comment on the scheme
  • There will then be a vote in the House of Commons and if the scheme is approved a planning application will be submitted by the airport to the Planning Inspector who will take a view and advise the government of his decision
  • The final sign off will be by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, and then construction will start


Waiting: Gatwick bosses still plan to expand in the future (photo Jeffrey Milstein)

Worth Park – Worth Park Events

A message from Edwina Livesey

Worth Park Garden – Whats On – 23rd October 2016

Dear Resident,

We have two events next week, both perfect for sunny mornings at Worth Park, which is just starting to display its autumn colour. On Wednesday we can all learn to crochet, make pom-poms and write short poems, which will be added to a yarn bombing at Worth Park led by local artist Vanessa Cumper.

Families can also have a go at sketching and help Sam our Head Gardener plant spring bulbs in our woodland.

On Saturday there will be another chance to learn about fungi with the excellent Nick Aplin, chair of the Sussex Fungi Group.

pens-and-needles fungi-foray

Both events are free and there is no need to book.

Further details on
website & Needles
website Foray

Thank you as always for your support for Worth Park.

Edwina Livesey

phone 01293 438027
phone 07826 917846
Participation Officer – Worth Park
Crawley Borough Council
Town Hall, The Boulevard
Crawley, RH10 1UZ

Facebook worthparkcrawley

Worth Park – A Unique Victorian Garden and Landscape

Crawley News – Gatwick Airport

Government Expected to Back Heathrow Option Despite Rumoured Cabinet Split
19th October 2016 – Crawley News


By Thomas Mackintosh

A Decision on whether to grant Gatwick Airport permission to build a second runway appears to have been delayed again but only by a week.

The Government was expected to announce yesterday (Tuesday) whether Gatwick or Heathrow or potentially even both airports, could expand, but it is now being reported that a decision will not be made until Tuesday next week.

Last week it was widely reported that the Prime Minister was set to approve the Airports Commission recommendation that a third runway should be built at Heathrow.

Despite this Gatwick is thought likely to press ahead with its own expansion plans as it thinks Heathrow will become bogged down in legal challenges.

There were even suggestions last week that the government could be set to give both Gatwick and Heathrow permission to build a new runway.

Gatwick Airport passenger numbers

Expanding? Gatwick Airport (photo Jeffrey Milstein)

A report published by the BBC on Monday suggests that Prime Minister Theresa May will gather views from her cabinet ministers before a final decision is made.

The understanding is that it would then be left to the Economic Affairs (Transport) Sub-Committee – which she chairs – whether to choose Heathrow, Gatwick or both. The committee is due to meet next Tuesday (October 25) with an announcement expected on the same day.

It has been widely reported that there are splits within the cabinet over which airport to choose. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Justine Greening are both heavily against expanding Heathrow.

And the Prime Minister’s constituency, in Maidenhead, Berkshire, would be affected by a third runway at Heathrow as it would be under a flight path. However Mrs May has kept fairly quiet on the issue.

Commenting on the reports speculating that a decision has been pushed back, a spokesman for Gatwick Airport said: “We are aware of the rumours but have heard nothing official from the government at the moment.


“They are keeping their cards quite close to their chest but we still stand ready to deliver [extra] and urgent capacity if needed, we will continue to make our case because we believe that Heathrow simply isn’t deliverable. ”

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport was also unaware of any imminent decision, saying: “it isn’t really a delay It is all just speculation at the moment.”

Prime Minister Theresa May Hosts Police Bravery Awards London-Gatwick-Airport-served-by-two-runways

Decision Time: Theresa May was expected to have her say this week

A spokesman. for the Department for Transport could only say that “a decision is going to be made in due course” and that they “don’t have a timeframe at the moment”.

The spokesman added: “The October deadline has been media speculation, it was suggested by the previous Secretary of State and then Brexit happened. A decision will be made soon and I am not familiar with any ‘October deadline’.”

Once the Prime Minister has chosen which option to back there would be a vote in Parliament, with reports suggesting there is enough support among MPs to give Heathrow expansion the go-ahead.


Improvements Galore: A fortune has been spent at Gatwick but a second runway is what bosses really want

Crawley Observer – Gatwick Airport

Airport Expansion Decision
19th October 2016 – Crawley Observer


By Staff Reporter
phone 01403 751200

A decision to give the go-ahead for a new runway at either Gatwick or Heathrow has been delayed again.

The Government was expected to make an announcement on whether to build a second runway at Gatwick or a third runway at Heathrow on Tuesday (October 18th). An announcement is now expected on Tuesday October 25th.

Gatwick’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate said his bid had more chance of delivery. “Any decision will indeed get bogged down in legal challenges if it’s a decision for Heathrow.

Gatwick is the option that has more certainty of delivery.” Anti-Gatwick expansion campaigners have warned of noise, damage to the environment and infrastructure concerns.

Crawley News – Gatwick Airport

Decision on Gatwick Expansion Imminent
Airport chiefs say they will press on regardless of outcome
12th October 2016 – Crawley News


By Thomas Mackintosh

A decision on whether Gatwick is allowed to build a second runway could finally be made next week. It has been widely reported that the Prime Minister is set to disregard environmental objections and give Heathrow the go-ahead to expand.


Promise: Gatwick bosses will persist with a bid for a second runway

While this would seem disastrous news for Gatwick there have been reports in the national press that the airport will press ahead with its expansion plans regardless as it believes a third runway at Heathrow won’t ever actually happen.

Stewart Wingate, Gatwick’s chief executive, also told Sky News on Sunday that he was ready should both airports be given the green light to expand.

He said: “We are very comfortable that if the Government’s decision is to have one [extra] runway at both airports, we will back ourselves that we will build our runway, build our terminal facilities, get the first advantage because our facilities will open at least five years sooner than Heathrow’s. So if the decision was to have a runway at both airports that is something that we will be very happy with.”

Not going to stop

A Gatwick spokesman also told Sky News on Monday: “We are not going to stop making our case to the Government, whatever they decide.” It was recommended in July last year by the Airports Commission that Heathrow should be allowed to build a third runway, rather than Gatwick being allowed to build a second.

But delays since then have raised hopes from those supporting Gatwick’s expansion that the Government could ignore this recommendation.

A spokesman for Gatwick Airport confirmed to the Crawley News this week that a decision is expected to be made imminently He said: “All indications are pointing to a decision at the beginning of next week and we are gearing up to see what the Government’s decision is.”

When asked about the reports that Gatwick would continue to work towards building a new runway, the spokesman said: “Even if Heathrow does get the nod we don’t think it is deliverable. We will need to wait and see what the decision is.”

Jeremy Taylor who is the chairman of Gatwick Diamond Business – which represents scores of local businesses – has been an avid supporter of Gatwick getting a second runway, and he told the Crawley News that he remains hopeful that the airport will be allowed to expand.

He said: “I don’t want to awaken a sleeping giant or anything like that, but the area around Heathrow has a lot more councils and MPs who are threatening to stand down or launch legal action [if Heathrow is chosen], whereas I haven’t heard much from anyone from Sussex.

“Gatwick have always been confident they can get everything ready well before Heathrow and for me it has always been the simple choice. However, any decision is long overdue.

“We need to know what is going to happen and for me it has been quite reassuring to hear that, even if the Government goes for Heathrow, Gatwick will still press forward with their plan which they know will be deliverable.

“I have heard that a decision could be made next week, perhaps the week after. “But I do also think there is a possibility they [the Government] will go for both airports and see who delivers theirs first. ”

Since coming into private ownership in 2009, Gatwick has grown from welcoming 31 million passengers a year to 41 million.


But one Crawley borough councillor who lives close to the airport says the infrastructure isn’t in place to support a second runway at Gatwick.

Brenda Smith, who represents Langley Green, has opposed a second runway for years and she was shocked to read the reports that the airport intends on pressing ahead even it doesn’t get the go-ahead from the Government.

She said: “It is surprising to hear. If Gatwick were to plod forward with a second runway it would be an environmental disaster for the people of Crawley “I do see the arguments of all the business benefits but the economic benefits do not outweigh the importance of the quality of life in the town. “If the runway goes ahead it could bring an extra 25,000 jobs – where are all of them going to live?

“The infrastructure is stretched enough as it is, we can’t build much more housing because we are at the edges of our borders and the proposed runway will take up part of my ward.

“I have to be concerned for not just Langley Green but for the people of Crawley”

Crawley Observer – Gatwick Airport

Heathrow is a ‘Decision for Delay’
12th October 2016 – Crawley Observer

By Joshua Powling

Picking Heathrow for expansion would be a ‘decision for more delay’, says Gatwick Airport’s boss.

National reports said Gatwick was considering forging ahead with a second runway even if the Government decided to give the green light to a third runway at Heathrow, with a decision on airport expansion in the South East expected later this month.

Gatwick Airport

An aerial image of Gatwick taken by photographer Jeffrey Milstein

London Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Officer Stewart Wingate

Stewart Wingate, chief executive officer at Gatwick

But speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Monday morning Gatwick’s chief executive officer Stewart Wingate explained that they were waiting for ministers to make a decision and thought they should opt for Gatwick’.

He said that a ‘decision for Heathrow is a decision for more delay’. He added: “Any decision will indeed get bogged down in legal challenges if it’s a decision for Heathrow. Gatwick is the option that has more certainty of delivery we can get spades in the ground this Parliament [by 2020] and we can get the runway up before the end of the next [2025].

He continued: “We are at the critical stage of decision making process where Government has to decide and over the coming days and what we anticipate is led by [Prime Minister] Theresa May the sub-committee of the Government is going to look at evidence once again and as it is presented today come out in favour of a new runway at Gatwick.”

Gatwick had seen an ‘explosion of long-haul routes’, while he argued a second runway could be fully privately financed, would be faster to deliver and better environmentally than Heathrow.

But he thought a new runway at both airports would be an ‘excellent outcome’ for consumers. A statement for Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions said: “If the Government does not select Gatwick and yet Gatwick applies for expansion anyway, it is highly unlikely that the airport would offer to provide any funding for roads and rail improvements as its management has said in the past that ‘onward surface access is not its problem’.

“That means that it will be our problem, taxpayers, and we can expect our air quality to continue to deteriorate through the lack of rail and road capacity.” Meanwhile the Scottish
Government has announced its support for a third runway at Heathrow, arguing that it offered the ‘greatest strategic and economic benefits to Scotland’.

A spokesman for Gatwick said: “We are surprised that the Scottish Government has chosen to support a proposal which we believe will undermine Scotland’s connections with the world, making it more dependent on London and the South East.”

Crawley Observer – Gatwick Airport

A runway success … or terminally grounded
The cases for and against a second runway at Gatwick are made in the week before an expected Government announcement on the airport expansion
5th October 2016 – Crawley Observer

The long awaited decision on the future of airports at Gatwick and Heathrow is expected to be made by the Government this month.

Airport expansion has proved a difficult topic for successive governments, and the issue was given to the independent Davies Commission by former Prime Minister David Cameron.

While it recommended a third runway be built at Heathrow last July, the Tory Government stalled on accepting the commission’s findings and an announcement setting out which airport will be allowed to expand has been delayed several times in the past year.

But now Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said a decision would be taken ‘shortly’, with a second runway at Gatwick, a third runway at Heathrow, or an extension to one of its existing runways, the three options on the table.

However PM Theresa May has refused to rule out new runways at both locations, and she is chairing a Cabinet aviation committee due to make a decision next week after the Tory Party Conference finishes.

Campaign groups, councils, and MPs surrounding Gatwick have opposed a second runway due to concerns around infrastructure and the environment, but business leaders have highlighted the economic boost expansion at the airport could bring.

The airport itself announced a strategic partnership with Bechtel, the firm behind the Channel Tunnel and Crossrail, earlier this week to help deliver a second runway by 2025 if the Government gives the go-ahead to its expansion.

‘Mayor economic benerfits for minimal impacts’
By Charles Kirwan-Taylor, director of corporate affairs and sustainability at Gatwick

Gatwick is fortunate to enjoy excellent local support for our expansion plans.

At the heart of these plans is the need to balance the significant economic benefits expansion would deliver, while limiting the environmental impacts.

The need for a new runway has never been greater. Gatwick is already the world’s busiest single-run-way airport, flying to more destinations than any other UK airport.

Gatwick connects local businesses in the South to important business destinations around the world, helping to generate tens of thousands of local jobs while playing an important role in the economic success of the region.

But without a new runway, the London airport system will be full by 2025 and the UK risks losing out to our competitors who are forging ahead with new links to existing and emerging markets around the world, which is more important than ever in this post-Brexit environment.

With land already safeguarded for expansion, a second runway at Gatwick can be delivered faster, is 100% privately funded and with approved road and rail improvements, Gatwick will be road and rail ready for a new runway by 2020, boosting local transport links for local commuters.

Due to Gatwick’s cheaper landing fees and lower construction costs, Gatwick expansion will ensure passenger charges remain low while increasing competition across the sector.

Unlike Heathrow, we recognise that our community will have concerns about a new runway, that is why Gatwick has made cast iron guarantees to local people and the Prime Minister that we will do everything we can to minimise the environmental impacts of expansion.

To achieve this, we have committed to a range of guarantees on air quality, noise and compensation.

Air quality is one of the most important issues in this debate and a critical public health issue. Gatwick has never breached legal air quality limits and van guarantee that with a second runway we will remain well within these important legal limits.

On noise, we will limit the noise contour area most impacted by aircraft noise (57dBA Leq) to 70sqkm, an area with a current population of 15,000 people. This is less than 5% of the hundreds of thousands of newly affected people Heathrow would impact.

For those most impacted by noise, Gatwick’s industry leading compensation scheme will pay €£1,000 per annum towards those people’s council tax.

These Guarantees are in addition to the pledges Gatwick has already made to ensure the benefits of expansion are spread across our local community, which is why we have committed to:

  • A £€46.5m fund to help local authorities deliver essential community infrastructure
  • A €£3.75m fund to help create 2,500 new apprenticeships for local people
  • Further noise insulation measures
  • A €£10m local highway development fund in place to meet any additional works
  • For the small number of homes that would need to be compulsorily purchase a €£131m Property Support Bond will offer homeowners 25% above market value, significantly above statutory requirements
  • A€ £14m Home Owners Support Scheme to buy any homes that would be subject to high levels of aircraft noise – above a set noise level – under the new plans.

While we await a Government decision on expansion Gatwick is continuing to do everything we can to limit noise and lessen our environmental impact.

Gatwick is already on track to become the UK’s most sustainable airport and we intend to remain so with a second runway.

With the ongoing support of local people we can make this runway happen so that the South and Britain can finally benefit.

‘We cant recreate our countryside and heritage’
By David Johnson, Chairmen CPRE Sussex:


While travelling around Sussex for the Campaign to Protect Rural England, local people tell me that their voices are not being heard when it comes to new development in their neighbourhood.

I also see Sussex councils struggling under continuing Government pressure to find yet more sites for development. This pressure is met by fierce community challenges as local residents fight to protect what makes Sussex special – its tranquil rural beauty.

As building new infrastructure and swathes of new homes seem to be regarded as the key to inflating the UK’s economy, there is further concern over the government’s imminent statement on airport expansion.

I fully understand why the possibility of a second runway at Gatwick causes such anguish and why 12 local authorities and eight senior MPs all oppose its expansion; it would threaten towns and countryside far and wide.

Already one council, 46 miles from the airport, is arguing for major local road improvements citing Gatwick as a reason.

I remember my very first flight from Gatwick to Guernsey in the Sixties when the airport was more like a train station, just a convenient place to catch a plane.

Today Gatwick is more like an expensive shopping mall and series of car parks with planes attached.

I can also remember a meeting last June in a beautiful C18th farmhouse adjacent to the southern perimeterwhere we all had to shout to be heard as the smell of kerosene lingered in the air and jets thundered pass.

While the nuisance of aircraft noise, light and air pollution and the impact on local traffic is familiar to many of us, any extension to Gatwick threatens to worsen this blight.

The burden of a greater Gatwick fills me with dread – ‘progress’ should not lead to a decline in air quality, the bulldozing of ancient woodlands and the loss of glorious, tranquil countryside.

Gatwick lies in the lee of the North Downs surrounded by three ‘Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ which enjoy the same protections as the National Parks.

This irreplaceable landscape is under threat and at least 17 Grade II listed buildings would need to be bulldozed simply to enable more UK residents to travel out of the country on low cost holidays.

Sussex would shoulder much of the burden of a Gatwick expansion – a report produced by the pro-Gatwick group, Gatwick Diamond, has revealed the expansion would create the need for 25,000 additional homes and acres of associated services and infrastructure.

This would generate another 100,000 new car journeys and 60.000 new rail passengers – pushing the M23 and M25 to capacity and crippling the London-Brighton rail line. Rail Track has already made it clear that the Brighton Line could not cope with an influx on this scale and would be unable to expand or remedy pinch points on the line.

Gatwick already has problems with aircraft noise it seems unable to solve. With no respite from two runways, day and night, 7 days a week, what would the impact be of an increase in flights to 560,000 planes a year over a 30 mile radius?

Who will benefit from Gatwick expansion? If the £40 million advertising campaign and propaganda is effective, then probably only Gatwick Airport Ltd, its foreign shareholders and its executives – one of whom, according to the Sunday Times, will benefit by €£5 million when the airport is sold.

We may be smart about our technology but we can’t recreate our countryside, ancient woodland, and heritage.

We arc all responsible for our legacy; surely we should be leaving behind a better world by preserving our country side from such destructive developments as a new runway at Gatwick.

Crawley Observer – Gatwick Airport

New Runways at Both Gatwick and Heathrow ‘Send Message’ to Firms
5th October 2016 – Crawley Observer

with Political Editor Joshua Powling

Allowing both Gatwick and Heathrow airports to expand would send a ‘compelling message’ to businesses looking to invest in the UK according to the county council’s new chief executive.

An independent report by Sir Howard Davies recommended a third runway at Heathrow last July, but ministers have spent the past year delaying a decision.


Nathan Elvery has joined West Sussex Count Council as its chief executive

But in a speech at the Tory Party Conference this week, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling explained that post Brexit building another runway in the South East would send a signal that Britain is open for business’.

In a wide ranging interview Nathan Elvery who took up the post of chief executive at West Sussex County Council three months ago, discussed the prospect of a second runway at Gatwick, improvements to Crawley’s Queens Square, devolution, and the challenges facing the authority.

Mr Elvery said: “If the Government goes for Gatwick we will make Gatwick work, but for the residents of West Sussex if it’s Heathrow the impact it will have on Gatwick if the employment pull is towards Heathrow there is going to be a significant impact on skills and jobs in the northern part of the county.”

He added: There will be a downside if Heathrow is the option. My guess it will be both. That’s my guess. Gatwick is more ready to go, as Heathrow is a deeply complicated project.”

Both road and rail infrastructure needed ‘significant investment’, but he thought Mrs May needed to send a ‘compelling message to businesses looking to invest in the UK following the EU Referendum result: Mr Elvery was born in Crawley, went to Thomas Bennett Community College, and started his career at Crawley Borough Council.

Work on a multi-million pound revamp of Queens Square started late last month. The county council is part-funding it, and he hoped that the investment would bring back some of the major stores and ‘put back some life into its retail offer’.

Since joining the council he has held a series of public engagement sessions with staff, as he said: “With an organisation of this size you

can’t be an effective chief executive until you have got staff on board and we have 4,500 staff right across the county. My style is not sitting in my office hoping everything you hope is happening is happening. You have to get out there.”

He wanted to create an open environment where staff are encouraged to share proposals and ideas, with staff surveys showing employees wanted stability in the senior management team and more upfront discussions.

Challenges facing West Sussex included ensuring children have the best start in life, promoting economic growth, and devolution.

The Government has unveiled plans for a new wave of grammar schools, and Mr Elvery said: “Let’s wait until the policy is clear.

We would say it’s already a very complex world of education and I think grammar schools have got to be clear about what their role is.”

As an enabler in education, the county council’s role was to work with schools to drive improvements, help them ‘recruit the best teachers’, and promote skills business would need in the future.

On devolution, Mr Elvery described approach of West Sussex East Sussex and Surrey as ‘pragmatic’ as it was important to get as much agreed now, so when they get to the deal itself it is intact and secure’.

Meanwhile he called proposals to give Police and Crime Commissioners control of fire and rescue services a ‘complete distraction’. He also despaired’ of conversations around a move to unitary authority status.

He explained: “Residents do not cane who is doing the services as long as it’s good quality and is being delivered.”