On Friday, the council will officially change hands from the Conservatives to Labour.
The three weeks between the election and the change of control has been a difficult period for my group as we’ve held a mandate for change and yet technically lacked the authority to take decisions.
This week that ends and people have increasingly been asking me: what is Labour going to do for Crawley? At the election we set out a vision for Crawley— our full manifesto can be found on our website, one in which all residents have a decent job, a place to call home and belong to a stronger community. That is exactly what we intend to deliver.
Clearly up-scaling the local jobs market and providing the houses we need isn’t going to happen over night. Yet, if we are going to achieve these things, and they are worth fighting for, we need to get the ball rolling now and members of my new cabinet are already working with council officers to plan out a route to get us there.
Not every goal takes years to accomplish and we hope to achieve some much more quickly than others. These range from increasing the Crawley residency requirement for joining the Housing Register and ensuring Bedroom Tax victims get to stay in their homes to tackling verge parking and ensuring grass height is limited to certain levels. Furthermore, we will introduce a Veterans Interview Programme at the council and work to promote the Living Wage and discourage abusive zero-hours contracts across Crawley. We will also be looking to bring back a number of past community events and involve residents more in decisions affecting their area.
More immediate decisions must also be taken, many of which have been long postponed by the Conservatives. We need to deal with the funding gap left by Government cuts to council funding and put a hold on the Tory spending-spree which has left the council’s unallocated reserves a fraction of what they inherited. We must also pass a suitable Local Plan and get to work on turning the Town Centre around. None of which will be easy, but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and get on with the job.
The work starts now.