Column: Cllr Brenda Smith, Crawley BC (lab, Langley Green) Strength of Labour will continue to grow

Six years ago on the loss of the labour Council I became the first woman leader of any group on Crawley Borough Council and the first Labour opposition leader for 32 years with a very depleted group who were quite demoralised.

After nine years of a labour Government, Crawley had a Tory Council.

Housing and decent homes standards were worrying us. And it looked like the new Council would choose to transfer our tenants to Housing associations.

After much debate and whilst the majority was small a late move in the Council chamber supported by the Lib Dems, secured Crawley Homes for the Council. A major triumph for me personally.

We have continued our successes recently by ensuring that Tilgate Park was not outsourced and remains in the control of Crawley Borough Council.

The Labour group having been reduced to just 9 members in 2008 has now been steadily growing, two by-elections and 5 seats won at May elections now sees the Labour group of 16 going from strength to strength, my own seat strongly consolidated in Langley Green, seems like a good time for a change of direction for me.

I have been enormously proud to have led the Labour Opposition Group in the Town Hall and held the Tory administration to account over loans to other councils, and overspend on the Maidenbower Pavilion project.

I am grateful to my colleagues for supporting me and for the advice given by Town Hall officers and staff.

Crawley has a vibrant, diverse and decent population who work hard and give their time unstintingly to help others and improve the quality of life in the Town.

I am proud to have played my part.

The new leader Cllr Peter Lamb is young, intelligent and has modern fresh ideas I am confident the strength of the group will continue to grow and in due course return Crawley to Labour control.