Election changes risk to neighbourhoods

The Conservative View with Cllr Duncan Crow SUS-170126-103712001
The Conservative View with Cllr Duncan Crow SUS-170126-103712001

Crawley’s council wards have always mostly matched Crawley’s neighbourhoods. This provides an easy understanding as to where our local councillors represent, as well as our councillors representing entire neighbourhoods rather than part of one and part of another.

Crawley as a designated new town was founded on a ‘neighbourhood principle’ and depending on its size, each neighbourhood is represented by either two or three councillors, with it working out that we have roughly one councillor per 2200 registered electors. Crawley has 37 councillors in a mixture of two and three-member wards with a system of ‘elections by thirds’, meaning that in the three years out of four that we don’t have County Council elections, that every ward elects one borough councillor each year. The exceptions are the smaller two-member wards which elect a councillor in two years out of four.

Crawley residents won’t be aware that our entire system of council wards for Crawley Borough Council is under review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE). This review will be finalised next year with the new ward boundaries coming into effect in 2019 when the entire council will be up for election in an ‘all-out election’. We will then revert back to elections by thirds.

Since the last review of the council’s ward boundaries in 2004, the LGBCE has new rules that don’t allow a mixture of two and three member wards anymore, unless we choose to revert to permanent all-out elections every four years. Sadly, despite my efforts, the entire ruling Labour group at the council won’t discuss the possibility of moving to elect the whole council every four years, despite the fact that this is the only way to ensure we maintain Crawley’s neighbourhood principle with our council wards matching our neighbourhoods.

Labour’s refusal to engage means Crawley is very likely to have council wards based on all three-member wards that risk carving up our neighbourhoods across the town. The Conservatives will fight Crawley’s corner to keep our council wards the same as our neighbourhoods but Labour have already put Crawley on a very slippery slope.