By Peter Lamb, Labour leader of Crawley Borough Council
Speaking with residents over recent weeks and months, I’ve heard the fear and uncertainty grow as it has become increasingly clear the Government is either unwilling or unable to deliver the things which will ensure our common security and prosperity.
Locally, we can’t promise to fix all the problems MPs have failed to resolve, but we can promise to continue to deliver on the ground those things which matter to our community.
Five years ago Crawley Labour said there was an alternative to cuts, that we could focus on raising revenue rather than making cuts and today we can proudly say we’re spending the same on services as when we regained control of the council, probably the only council in the UK which can claim that. We’ve even achieved it with the second lowest council tax in the South East--particularly considering Crawley gets only 11.5% of your council tax with the rest set by the Conservative County Council and Police Commissioner, even so local Conservatives still criticised us for setting budgets which ‘failed’ to cut despite the money we raised meaning we didn’t have to.
Yet, holding ground isn’t nearly enough for us. Experts have shown many of Crawley’s jobs could be lost to automation over coming years, so we’ve produced Crawley’s first ever Employment and Skills Plan and we’re working with employers and educators to get the town’s workforce ready to adapt as automation occurs. With housing out of reach for far too many, we’re also building hundreds new council homes annually for the first time in decades, rather than the extremely unaffordable large ‘aspirational homes’ out-of-touch local Conservatives told us would fix Crawley’s social mobility issues.
Lastly, while Crawley Borough Council controls relatively few services, we don’t hold back when a service is failing local people regardless of who runs it. From demanding more police on Crawley’s streets to calling out our local Highways Authority, West Sussex, for their failures on parking. While those running the local Conservatives are literally on the county council’s payroll, Crawley Labour at least will go on speaking up and delivering for Crawley.
This piece is part of a series where all the major parties were invited to share their priorities for the town in the lead up to the Crawley Borough Council elections.
Polling day is Thursday May 2.