The first time I had ever heard of Pétanque was when all Crawley councillors received an email telling us that a Pétanque Court was to be installed in Crawley's Memorial Gardens. There was no explanation as to what it is was, so I had to look it up online. Apparently, it is a French pastime similar to Boules. This appears to be the whim of one councillor who holidays in France, Labour's Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Chris Mullins.
Given that any proposed change for the Memorial Gardens should be dealt with sensitively, I just can't believe how badly this has been handled and Chris dismissing the concerns of the entire Conservative Group at Crawley Borough Council as "just a few Tories" has rubbed me up the wrong way. We are 18 councillors out if Crawley's 37 (48.65%) and have been elected to represent Crawley. We should not be dismissed so arrogantly.
This proposal has been widely ridiculed in the national press and Crawley's Conservative councillors discussed the Memorial Gardens at our meeting on Tuesday evening. We unanimously agreed to call on Cllr Mullins to reconsider and put his plan on hold, pending a review of both the demand to play pétanque and of potential alternative sites. We issued this press release:
The entire Conservative opposition at Crawley Borough Council have called on the Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Cllr Chris Mullins, to immediately put on hold plans to install a Pétanque Court in Crawley’s Memorial Gardens.
At a meeting of the Council’s Conservative group on Tuesday evening, a motion was unanimously passed calling for Cllr Mullins to immediately halt his controversial plans for pétanque in the Memorial Gardens, pending a review of both the demand for such a facility in the town and of potential alternative sites.The Conservative’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Cllr Beryl MeCrow, said “We are not opposed to this pastime but we have not been shown any evidence that there is a demand for pétanque in Crawley. All we know is that Cllr Mullins likes to play the game and is hoping other people will take it up. This could be a white elephant that would spoil the beautiful and tranquil Memorial Gardens.”
Councillor Brenda Burgess (Three Bridges) who has led the concerns added, “The whole way this has been handled has been shambolic and is part of a wider problem of a ‘closed-shop town hall’. We were just told it was happening and that there would be no discussion about it. We want this put on hold before the Memorial Gardens are dug up and spoiled. We want to see if there are more suitable locations such as Goffs Park or Southgate Playing Fields. Why won’t Cllr Mullins consider this?”
Update: the Crawley News has received a response from Cllr Mullins saying that he "couldn't give a f*** what the Tories think."