Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 28th May 2014

After eight years in opposition Crawley Labour Party has regained control of Crawley Borough Council. This is the fourth election since 2010 where Labour has won the popular vote in the town and sets the ground for the General Election next year.

When last in office Labour built K2 and the Hawth, bought Tilgate Park for the town and still managed to put aside over £100m in reserves. We regain control in very different circumstances but we believe that within the financial constraints and with all the challenges we have been left with, we can still deliver for Crawley.

We campaigned on the need for better jobs, more housing for local people and greater support for the community. In administration we intend to honour the commitments made in opposition and our complete manifesto can be found on the Crawley Labour website.

Of course, it would be too easy in regaining control to ignore the scale of the protest vote last Thursday, particularly in the local elections. Listening to Ukip voters on the door-step it was clear that they too want change in Crawley and across the country but no longer trust the established parties to deliver that change. Obviously when that many people feel excluded by the system there are going to be problems which go well beyond politics and for the benefit of the local community we need to work to heal that rift.

Over the next twelve months I hope to show that Labour can be a party which not only delivers change for Crawley residents but which is open to the concerns held by local people. We can’t promise always that we’ll agree with each other but if things are going to get better we need to start by being honest and non-judgemental about the challenges we all face.

Could I just end by thanking the residents of Northgate for going out to vote and re-electing me as their local councillor, but could I also thank all those who took the time to vote at all and for any party. At the end of the day, in a democracy it’s the people who vote who end up getting their way.

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