#Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th December 2012

2012 has been a busy year. It has been a year of national celebration, where the London Olympics showed the world the best a modern United Kingdom had to offer. Internationally it’s also the year when the US elections were finally able to give the world a sigh of relief with the re-election of Barack Obama.

In Crawley, we’ve seen the passage of the Olympic and Paralympic flames through the town, the promotion of Crawley Town to League One and a major cross-party effort to re-develop the Town Centre.

While it’s right to celebrate the achievements of the town, we can’t ignore the failures. 2012 is the year when the Government threw away millions on Police and Crime Commissioner Elections which no one wanted and less than 15% of Crawley residents voted for. It’s the year when unemployment reached a 17-year high, with an increase in Crawley’s long-term unemployed of almost a third. 2012 is the year the country went into a double dip recession and the Government missed its own deficit reduction targets, all the while putting aside £50 million in West Sussex to spend on an NHS restructure no one wanted.

Unfortunately that’s not even the worst of it; most of the poor decisions taken this year locally and by Crawley’s Member of Parliament won’t even hit local residents until well into 2013. We’re talking about an estimated 2,700 public sector job loses, rule changes which will lead to a council tax hike for many in the town and housing reforms which stand to substantially increase the number of homeless.

That’s before we even consider the impact of the reduction in support for adult social care, the 90% cut to compensation for victims injured by criminals, the ‘Granny tax’ or the reductions in support for working families. 2012 is the year the Government chose to reduce the top rate of tax for millionaires rather than standing up for the average household.

2012 was undoubtedly the year the Government lost touch with the realities facing tens of millions of their citizens. Let’s hope 2013 is the year the country forces them to listen.

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