By Crawley Liberal Democrats
Unbelievably, [county] council funding for Crawley Open House hostel for the homeless is under threat. The facility must be saved. But while councils remain under such severe financial pressure, what future impact can Crawley Borough Council hope to make?
Firstly, Crawley can improve its position as a major transport hub. We are the home of the second airport of one of the world’s greatest cities. Pressure to expand the airport will return. The Council must make it absolutely plain that any sensible expansion plans must fully address noise & pollution reduction and the big road & rail infrastructure improvements necessary.
Secondly, Crawley can improve as a leading employment centre. More of its hi-tech jobs can be taken by Crawley residents. The Council should coordinate efforts by schools, colleges and employers to encourage Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics education locally.
Thirdly, Crawley can become a major cultural centre. We are blessed with one of the most culturally diverse populations anywhere on Earth. History shows that arts, music and fashion flourish when differing cultures mix. There is, in particular, an abundance of largely untapped talent amongst our younger residents. The Borough Council should become an enabler for many more live events, and coordinate with voluntary organisations to take advantage of currently much under-utilised facilities such as youth centres and halls.
Crawley can further enhance the quality of life for its residents. More affordable housing is urgently needed, but pressure to build smaller housing units must be resisted, along with reduced building standards and higher building densities. Our urban green spaces must be protected. The shortfall in residential parking provision, particularly in the original New Town estates, is too severe and widespread to expect hard standing areas for all vehicles to be affordable. It simply will never be.
The Council must introduce a scheme to provide permission and guidance for residents to install parking mats on grass verges where appropriate, whilst protecting those verges from degradation.
The Council should also coordinate provision of advice on mental health, anti-bullying strategies, avoiding online abuse, keeping alert to sexual exploitation, identifying modern slavery and other modern problem areas.
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.