Cllr Geraint Thomas
Cllr Ifield and Ifield West, Cabinet Member for Environment
Cllr Geraint Thomas passed away on 27th November 2019. We are leaving this page available in memory of a dedicated friend and colleague.
Labour candidate for Ifield – Borough Elections May 2nd 2019.
Geraint has been an Ifield resident since 1987 and has lived in Crawley all his life.
Geraint was first elected as a Northgate borough councillor in a by election in October 2009 (unseating a Liberal Democrat) and he was re-elected in May 2011 and 2015. A lifelong Crawley resident, former full back for Crawley Rugby Club and keen cricketer, Geraint taught geography locally for many years at Hazelwick and St Wilfrid’s. Before he was elected, Geraint was active in local campaigning. For instance, as a Furnace Green resident, he lobbied the county council to install a pedestrian crossing between Furnace Green and Three Bridges across Haslett Avenue and campaigned to ensure that the new Maidenbower neighbourhood did not have road access to – and through-Furnace Green along (what was called) Maidenbower Drive.
Moving to Ifield in 1987, Geraint was active in campaigns to preserve Ifield Brook Meadows west of Rusper Road from housing development.
Retiring after 31 years of secondary geography teaching in 2005, Geraint was active in the Patients Council at East Surrey Hospital and was influential in improving the bus service to and from Crawley and East Surrey. He stood and lost (narrowly) as the Labour candidate in Tilgate in the 2007 borough elections and in 2008 in the Northgate and Three Bridges County Council elections. Around this time, he campaigned vigorously for Crawley Borough Council to offer free swimming (to promote healthier lifestyles) at K2 to pensioners and all those under 16. This was Labour government policy at the time but the Conservative borough administration refused to introduce it.
After his election as Northgate borough councillor in 2009, he was active in the formation of Northgate Matters residents group and has supported it ever since, for instance, in recently helping to organise a meeting with outside speakers from both sides about the possible second runway at Gatwick. Geraint has regularly attended West Sussex County Council’s East Crawley County Local Committee and has been influential in raising the profile of Northgate issues there.
Geraint is keen to defend the planning principles which were the basis of the formation of Crawley New Town and has been prominent in campaigns to maintain a surgery in the residential part of Northgate and in opposing reductions in Royal Mail collections in Northgate. He has also pursued many issues brought to his attention by individual residents such as litter, parking, drainage issues and anti-social behaviour. For instance, he successfully campaigned to get uneven paving stones in Queens Square repaired. Geraint feels he has been influential – even when Labour was in opposition until 2014- in raising the profile of environmental issues such as reducing carbon emissions. Geraint has also raised concerns about the withdrawal or non-availability of toilets for instance at the bus station and Crawley Job Centre. A keen walker and cyclist, he has promoted not only the development of cycle paths but also the need to discourage cyclists from using busy public footpaths.
Geraint is active in various committees on the borough council – notably Planning – and is a prominent debater in the council chamber. Geraint was for about five years the Labour Group secretary and in 2014-15 was the chair of borough’s Budget Advisory Group (BAG).In opposition before 2014, Geraint was active in the Financial Deprivation Scrutiny Panel – until the Conservatives abolished it. Geraint made a substantial contribution to the recent second runway debate which was based on his thorough research, considerable local knowledge and substantial informal consultation with Northgate residents.
Geraint is a great supporter of West Sussex Library Service and takes exception to the Conservative County Council’s decision to allow the use of Crawley Library premises for ‘Amazon lockers’ given that multinational company’s poor record on paying tax and its employment practices.
Geraint spent some years as a Community Governor at Northgate Primary School.
Despite his many council and other commitments, Geraint manages to pursue various wider interests such as watching rugby, reading, gardening, cycling, walking and making and listening to music. In 2013, he was involved in research about the effects of the First World War on people in West Sussex using local newspapers as part of a West Sussex County Council project that culminated in the publication of a book ‘West Sussex: Remembering 1914-18’ edited by Martin Hayes and Emma White. Geraint was instrumental in moving a beautiful hand-written scroll detailing the men of the village of Lowfield Heath who were killed in World War 1 from the now redundant St Michael and All Angels church in Lowfield Heath to Crawley Museum.
Since 2016, Geraint has been the Cabinet Member for Environmental Services and Sustainability at the Borough Council and has worked hard to improve recycling rates and sustainable transport in Crawley.