Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 13th May 2015

I congratulate Mr Smith on his re-election as Member of Parliament for Crawley and welcome his promise to rebel against his party in Parliament. Crawley faces many challenges ahead and I hope that Crawley Borough Council and the people of the town can rely upon his support as we work to address them.

The UK may have chosen to select a Conservative government, but here in Crawley we retain a Labour council. The scale of the cuts we are now set to endure is daunting, adding to the existing loss of police officers, overcrowding of classrooms and the desperation of those struggling to make ends meet.

It’s my firm intention to place the council between the Tory Government and the people of Crawley, working to protect residents and services from what is to come. This will be all the more challenging with councils having already suffered a 40% cut in income since 2010, with eye-watering reductions yet to follow.

Crawley faces a housing crisis, made all the worse for the Government’s unwillingness to act on exploitative rents or to give Crawley the right to grow. Local wages are stagnating, yet the Government fails to lead on zero-hours contracts and the Living Wage. The education system is under-resourced and forces children to take on huge debts if they to gain the qualifications they now need to compete in the new economy. Our NHS is straining to cope and will face the twin threats of under-investment and privatisation, while trying to adapt to the changing needs of an aging population. On all of this and more I hope Mr Smith is sincere in his commitment to rebel and will work with us to demand a better deal for Crawley.

Labour has a long way back to Government and we realise that people no longer feel we represent the change they believe Britain needs. We’ve listened too little and have seemed detatched from people’s everyday lives. For that I am sorry and over coming years we will work to reconnect with you all, so that we can once again become the people’s party.

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