One of my photos

Bert Crane

April 10th, 2012 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 5 Comments · Politics

Bert Crane

Last week I went along to the full council meeting at the town hall. It is not something I do very often, maybe once or twice in the last five years, but last week was a very special meeting – the last one ever to feature Bert Crane as a councillor.

He has been a councillor since before many of us were born, and possibly longer than anybody else in the country – 58 years continuously. Not on the same council of course. Local government has been reorganised a few times while he has been there.

He started on Horsham rural district council then the urban development council and finally on Crawley borough council. This year his four-year term is up and he has decided not to stand again.

At the meeting last week the mayor presented Bert with a badge which will continue to give him access to the town hall facilities after his retirement. She described it as being an honorary councillor and having the freedom of the town hall (though I think he already has the freedom of the town) but in practice it just means he will be able to go into the members’ room for a coffee and the read the newspapers.

Perhaps he will enjoy being able to continue his long-established routine, or perhaps he will try to catch up on 58 years’ worth of jobs around the house, but at least he has the choice and it was a well-meant gesture by the council.

The dark side of it all is the well of mean spirits that the event uncovered. The way I understand it, this gesture was thught up by somebody on the Labour group and agreed with the leader of the council. All was well until he raised it in a Tory group meeting and there was a lot of resistance to doing this small thing. Why and how could you object to it?

Really this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. I can’t imagine many people, if any, have served so long in the same place without a break, and I can’t see it happening again. It is well known that Bert would not accept any sort of official honour like an OBE or CBE or whatever as he has a robust view of the whole honours system, but this is something from people he knows and who know him, so that’s OK.

Bert isn’t in the best of health these days but he is still sharp and puts a lot of energy into being a councillor, even after so long. Anybody who would not have some admiration for him or who would begrudge him a small token of appreciation must be a very small-minded and spiteful individual indeed.

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5 Comments so far ↓

  • Adam Brown

    It is a real shame that anyone would consider it wrong to allow Bert this tiny benefit Even though I served on the other side of the chamber to Bert as when I was a new councillor he was a goldmine of information and always ready to help.

    It was always quite amaizing when discussing things to have an insight onto how the council had made it’s original decision. For that alone having him around the Town Hall can be priceless.

  • Skuds

    I have since found out about somebody who was a councillor for about 80 years! I think a lot of that was parish councils and he did live to be 104.

    One of the comments about him from a colleague was how they never needed to refer to archives to look up details of some decision made 30 years before, because he would always be able to tell them all about it.

  • Bob Lanzer


    I would just like to comment that the proposal for recognising Bert’s unique contribution was unanimously supported by the Conservative Group. Bert rightly received a standing ovation from both political groups and officers of the Council.

    Bob Lanzer

  • Skuds

    Well it’s not what I heard, but if you say so I won’t argue with you.

  • Richard

    Albert Crane Court in Ifield was dedicated to Bert Crane’s father, I think, so the Crane family has had an enormous influence on Crawley over many years.

    Someone should write a book about it.