So another month rolls on and we see yet further Conservative chaos at the Town Hall.
The Crawley 2029 Local Plan—the plan which caused all the noise around housing developments, travellers’ sites and new cemetery proposals—has slipped back a year to become the Crawley 2030 Local Plan. This is the plan which decides the next 15 years of the town, the plan which when members of the Labour Group asked to extend the consultation period so all residents could have a say we were told that any delay would put the town at risk. How things change.
Yet the Local Plan is just the tip of the iceberg, with even run-of-the-mill decisions now facing regular delays and no sense of direction coming from the ruling Conservative Group.
Instead Labour Group policies such as the Living Wage, the Community Covenant with the Armed Forces and strengthening the local connection for Council Housing are snapped up to fill the void where real leadership should be.
While I’m proud that even in opposition the Labour Group can deliver for Crawley, the town cannot go on with a Conservative Group which is in office but out of control. The challenges ahead for Crawley are too great for the council to be left adrift, we need a new sense of purpose and vision, looking not only to give the town its pride back but offer residents the support they need to fulfil their own aspirations.
In the eighteen months since I became Leader of the Opposition I have met with Council Leaders from across the country and made use of every opportunity to research and discuss how councils can adapt to meet the changing needs of towns and their populations.
The road ahead isn’t easy but through effective partnership work, place leadership and commercial development we can still move forwards even in an age of austerity, all it takes hard work, vision and determination.
Crawley’s motto is ‘I Grow and I Rejoice’ and in the Labour Group we choose to grow and end the decline.