Crawley councillors unaware of volunteers’ work, investigation finds

Karen Sudan, chairman of the Fairness Commission Scrutiny Panel
Karen Sudan, chairman of the Fairness Commission Scrutiny Panel

Crawley councillors lack awareness of the work done by the town’s voluntary groups, a year-long investigation has found.

Crawley Borough Council’s Fairness Commission Scrutiny Panel (FSCP) said it was ‘vital’ councillors achieve ‘clarity and understanding’.

The borough council’s cabinet will tonight (Wednesday October 7) vote on its recommendations for setting up a scheme for members to deal with the issue.

Its report stated: “It became apparent throughout discussions that members were not always aware of the work being undertaken and it highlighted that information needed to be co-ordinated and shared as this could assist different agencies

involved in addressing issues in a more effective way. Furthermore, any additional information would inform members on the current work of the community and voluntary service and initiatives that could aid neighbourhood work.”

It has recommended the creation of a Community Needs Panel which would allow the council to make more authoritative, evidence-based, representations to central government, the county council and other parties affecting voluntary work in Crawley.

Five councillors would attend meetings of the Crawley Community and Voluntary Service (CCVS) and other groups to have up to date information and discuss local issues.

CCVS is an independent charity that supports and represents charitable groups in town which was used by more than 200 groups last year,

Panel members would use council and voluntary agencies’ evidence and data to highlight issues and actions for the council.

The report stated: “This would allow members to obtain further insight into the issues affecting the community, using evidenced based analysis and data. It could allow some members to have a role in championing the work, co-ordinate and highlight issues further when working with partner agencies or other organisations (eg WSCC) by being able to challenge current operations.”

The FCSP was created after the council’s financial deprivation scrutiny panel was disbanded in early 2014.

The former panel had established hardship was in an issue in the Crawley area.

The FSCP was created to investigate the possibility of creating a Fairness Commission.

Its report recommended against making the formal permanent committee because the council was too small.

The document was discussed at a meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Commission on Monday (October 5).

FCSP chairman Karen Sudan (Lab, West Green) said that as they moved forward it would be good to have input from Conservative Group.

She explained: “I really believe the better debate you have you get a better outcome for having that debate than you would have had than either side of the debate would have got on their own.”

Bob Lanzer (Con, Pound Hill South and Worth) replied: “I will take those comments back certainly.”

The Tories did not take up the two places it had on the five-seat FCSP.

Duncan Crow, leader of the Crawley Conservative Group, said its original chairman, Michael Jones, who was vice-chairman of the council’s scrutiny commission while in opposition, had voted against a Tory member taking up his former role.

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