Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 5th August 2015

A little over a year ago, Labour regained control of Crawley Borough Council following eight years’ of increasingly chaotic Conservative administration. By the time of the election key policies such as the Local Plan had stalled, there was a blank sheet of paper where we needed a town centre regeneration strategy and the height of grass verges showed how little attention was paid to local neighbourhoods.

After months clearing the backlog we’ve got things moving again and despite the difficult financial conditions we’ve run a balanced budget while still finding ways to enhance services and attractions for residents.

Our manifestos have been ambitious but focused on both what is achievable and what stands to do the most good for Crawley, built around three main areas: jobs, housing and community.

Since the 2014 local elections, we’ve worked hard to find the resources we need to meet the housing requirements of local residents. Over the next four years we will build 1,000 new affordable homes–while safeguarding community green space–and the new Crawley residency requirements will ensure that it is local residents who are the first to benefit from new housing in the town.

To ensure that Crawley continues to have jobs for local people and to work towards improving the quality of employment we’ve set up an economic development team in the Town Hall, kicked off the process of town centre regeneration and we’re putting together a future skills strategy so that as the economy moves on Crawley residents aren’t left behind.

Local communities across the town have benefitted from us restoring the resources necessary for verges and neighbourhoods to be kept to a decent standard, a renewed programme of community events and ongoing enhancements to Crawley’s leisure attractions.

I’m proud of the ground we’ve managed to cover since the election and the fact the Opposition seem more interested in discussing committee chairs than criticising our programme for Crawley speaks volumes. Clearly there’s much more which needs to be done but Crawley once again has a council with a vision for the town, focused on the needs of local people.

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