For all the talk of aspiration, Crawley’s Tories have repeatedly found themselves on the wrong side of the argument on the biggest issues affecting residents’ lives.
Employment and housing have more of an impact over ensuring people’s basic needs are met and enabling them to move on with their lives than anything else.
As an economic powerhouse, Crawley has traditionally benefited from low unemployment. However, there’s a huge gap between wages paid out by local employers and what Crawley residents actually earn, with the best jobs often going to those who commute in on a daily basis.
Over recent years the town’s skills base has been allowed to decline with kids either forced down the university route or often leaving school with very basic skills and limited prospects.
One of the key components of the German economic success is their intermediary skills base but in the UK by ring-fencing funding for universities and schools—although not without siphoning some of it off to pay for failed experiments—has meant education cuts have been forced onto Further Education, the exact area we need to grow to give the next generation a better start in life.
Locally, we’re working to tackle some of these issues but for real change we need the Government to step up over funding and remove the perverse incentives which are letting young people down.
Housing is clearly an issue locally. Over half of new local households can’t afford private housing and we lack the space to meet Crawley’s housing needs.
That’s why we passed the Local Plan with a higher level of affordable housing while protecting local green space and we will change the allocation rules to ensure local people benefit from any new housing developments.
Nationally, we need a Government which will enable us to push beyond the town’s borders to ensure our housing need is met without sacrificing all the town’s green space, such as with Labour’s ‘Right to Grow’.
Aspiration is more than a word, it’s about helping people to move on and move up in their lives and that’s exactly what we’re working to deliver.