Celebrating the New Towns

Yesterday was ‘The Big Seven-0’, the culmination of our year-long series of events celebrating Crawley’s Platinum Anniversary. It was great to see that so many people had braved the weather to make it out over the course of the day, watching and joining in the varied programme of events, culminating in lights and fireworks.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about the anniversary events the council has supported over the course of the year is that they have not celebrated the history of the New Town itself (which having been a student of Roger Bastable is something I learned to love back in Secondary School), but also where we are now and where we seem to be going. With every event we get to see all the different flavours of culture which exists within our community and to celebrate the increasingly amazing place in which we live. At the very least, the added footfall for the Town Centre that such events bring helps to sustain local retail–our biggest single sector of employment, and adds to our programme of Town Centre Regeneration.

Unfortunately, I was only able to drop-by the day’s celebrations briefly due to Labour having called a National Campaign Day in the wake of the Budget. This was an important opportunity for us to raise awareness in the town about the negative impact the Tories are having on living standards across the country and we were very pleased to be joined by Angela Smith, Labour’s Leader in the House of Lords. Talking with Baroness Smith about the issues we face in Crawley was fascinating, not least due to her understanding of New Towns having previously represented Basildon in the House of Commons, the town where she was born.

The economic situation we face nationally is deeply concerning, but as a council leader I did have a slight moment of pride, or perhaps amusement, when looking at the leaflets which the national party had produced for the day on what the next Labour Government will deliver in office. In every policy area, from housing and job opportunities to energy prices and the Living Wage, Labour’s administration at Crawley Borough Council is already taking action for the town. When Crawley residents have been polled in the past their feedback on the work of the council has been overwhelmingly positive. If Labour can deliver on the ground in Crawley, I have no doubt we can do it for the country from Westminster.

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