Crawley MP criticises council in House of Commons over Local Plan ‘prevarication’

Henry Smith MP has spoken in the House of Commons to criticise Crawley’s Labour council.

Disharmony between the town’s two main political parties was given an airing in the halls of power when Tory Mr Smith accused the council of “prevaricating” over the Local Plan, which will influence development in the town for 15 years.

During a debate about housing shortages which had been raised by Wolverhampton MP Emma Reynolds, Mr Smith said: “Since we are talking about statistics, will the hon Lady welcome the approximately 2,000 new homes that are being built as a result of the previous Conservative administration of Crawley Borough Council, and will she condemn the same local authority’s current Labour administration for prevaricating on the Local Plan?”

While Ms Reynolds chose not to answer the question directly, Mr Smith’s comment was criticised by Crawley councillors.

Council leader Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) accused Mr Smith of making claims which “aren’t true”.

He said: “Elected representatives will always have a role in holding each other to account but it’s important that there is actually some substance to the criticism.

“The Local Plan will be coming to the first full council meeting of the Labour administration, literally the first opportunity for us to get it through, after half a year of Conservative drift.”

The Local Plan was rejected in December after the entire Labour Group along with Conservative councillor Keith Brockwell refused to vote it through.

Following a number of adjustments – such as the scrapping of the Town Centre North regeneration plan – it will be voted on again at the next meeting of the full council on Wednesday (July 23).

Mr Smith added: “Labour councillors have had a poor recent record with a lack of vision for Crawley.

“Last year they blocked the then Conservative administration’s housing plans for the borough and only days into office last month cancelled the town centre regeneration proposals.

“Now they want to force a travellers’ site on Broadfield.

“I think their priorities are wrong and that’s why I called them out in the Commons.”

The full council meeting will start at 7.30pm at the town hall.