Around the year, whatever the weather, I’m out every weekend with other Labour councillors in Crawley asking residents what matters to them and what the issues are in their area.
Most of the time people say they have nothing to raise with us, but sometimes people do highlight ways we can help their family and our community. In either case, it’s a good chance to check if the things we’re working to deliver as elected representatives are the right priorities and to get feedback on how we’re doing.
On Monday we received some major feedback with the publication of Cities Outlook 2019 by the Centre for Cities, the UK’s leading urban policy thinktank. While Crawley does not have the Royal Charter required to call itself a city, nor the population size typical of cities, our economic weight justifies our inclusion in the report. Cities Outlook rates cities’ performance annually and yet again Crawley has come out close to the top.
When I became Council Leader in 2014, I made the council’s priorities homes, jobs and the community, all the while working to find new income sources to make up for Government cuts.
The figures prove this strategy has worked. Cities Outlook shows Crawley has suffered fewer cuts than almost any other area since 2010, although for some reason the county council is investing less in our adult social care for the elderly than they do in Worthing.
Our jobs market remains strong, with local workers making amongst greatest contribution to the UK economy and we’re innovating, with the sixth highest number of patents. Wages remain high too, although still far too few local people are getting the best paying jobs.
My favourite stat is on housing though, an issue where we know the local need is desperate. Despite being the second smallest of the areas covered, we’re delivering the seventh biggest increase in housing stock in the country. We’re working hard to build affordable homes for local people.
It’s always good to get an independent opinion, and the independent report this week proves that Crawley Labour are delivering for Crawley.
See also: Peter Lamb on mental health services