Labour councillor vying to be town’s parliamentary candidate

Labour's Michael Jones
Labour's Michael Jones

A senior Labour councillor is looking to be chosen as his party’s next parliamentary candidate for Crawley.

Michael Jones, who is both a West Sussex county and Crawley borough councillor and came second in the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2016, is the latest to announce his intention to stand when party members are balloted in the new year.

Already Peter Lamb, leader of Crawley Borough Council, Nona Buckley-Irvine, the Crawley Constituency Labour Party’s agent for June’s general election, and Labour Party activist and trade unionist Dan Dobson, are all looking for a chance to take on the town’s Tory MP Henry Smith.

Mr Jones, 41 who is cabinet member for community engagement and public protection at CBC, was a Labour parliamentary candidate for Bexhill & Battle in 2005 and Bognor Regis & Littlehampton in 2010.

He held back on announcing his intention to stand until he had formally received the backing of his home branch, the Southgate Labour Party.

He said: “I feel a representative needs to have some backing from their local community before putting themselves forward for something as important as representing a Parliamentary constituency.

“I am delighted to have received the backing of my home branch, they have shown they have faith in my ability, and that gives me the strength to take on the challenge that it will be to take this constituency back from the Tories.

“There has been too much division within the party nationally in the recent past, I am the candidate who can bridge the divide because I am Labour through and through, and Jeremy Corbyn has my unequivocal support.

“One thing I have learnt from my time locally is that you need a track record to win in Crawley, something I definitely have.

“A lot of politics is local, and being the only candidate who is on both the Borough and County council means I will be able to lead from the front on issues that matter to Crawley people, no matter where the need to stand up for people arises, while this incompetent and callous Tory Government lasts.

“Ultimately it will be the party members who have the final say, but I am ready to devote myself even further to public service at the highest level, if they choose that.”

Mr Jones is a qualified solicitor and was first elected to West Sussex County Council in 2001.

At County Hall he opposed cuts and the introduction of charges at the county’s rubbish tips, attempted to stop the axing of the 3-in- 1 card a concessionary bus scheme for young people, and campaigned against recent cuts to the fire service.

He also worked as a Parliamentary assistant over several years both to former cabinet minister John Denham, former MP for Southampton Itchen, and Crawley’s former Labour MP Laura Moffatt.

At Crawley Borough Council Mr Jones has been overseeing the year-long celebrations of Crawley’s 70th anniversary, which culminated in the ‘Big Seven-O’ parade and celebrations in the Memorial Gardens.

He is also a member of the Sussex Police and Crime Panel, which holds PCC Katy Bourne to account.

The next general election may not be called until 2022 at the latest.