Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 29th June 2016

It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that last week the UK voted to leave the EU, with Crawley voting decisively for Leave.

As I set out in my last column, this presents a number of risks for Crawley and what is needed now is decisive national leadership to tackle the major issues which must be resolved.

Residents want a rejuvenated town centre and while any loss of consumer confidence in the short-term poses a risk to retail, the much bigger question is what is going to happen to the cost of imports? The introduction of tariff barriers, adding a tax to imported goods, could pose a real threat to struggling retailers and the Government needs to find a way of addressing this.

The same is true on Manor Royal where a number of products are still made, including some of the world’s most advanced medical equipment, and where the cost of imported components could rise. In addition, any products sold abroad would face those countries’ tariff barriers, making them less competitive. That has both an immediate impact in terms of revenue but also affects investment decisions, particularly whether production would be better located in another country.

For Gatwick the Government needs to act fast to arrange the deals we need for UK aircraft to fly internationally. At the moment this is all agreed through the EU, but we need clarity from the Government as to their approach, will the UK seek to remain part of the European Civil Aviation Area, the easiest option but which would prevent immigration barriers and would mean continuing to pay the EU a considerable amount of money and following EU regulations, only without a say over policy.

Whatever their approach, it is certainty that one actually exists which is now needed and this week I have met with other local authority leaders to agree that we will work together to address the challenges ahead and ensure the area remains an economic success.

While chaos may now reign on the national level, on the ground we are determined to keep building a better future for Crawley.

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