Businesses and benefits in Crawley

Oscar Wilde allegedly once said that “the trouble with Socialism is that it takes too many evenings”. Had he been writing about elected representatives, he might have added weekends as well, as in addition to morning canvassing sessions never a weekend goes by without a range of community events to attend.

Small Business Saturday took place today and I was out early with Cllr Peter Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, and representatives of our local branch of the Federation of Small Businesses meeting with members of the local small business community to show our support. While it is easy to think of big names as making up our high streets, it is often the smaller businesses which add character and keep people coming back to one locality as opposed to one of any number of ‘Clone Towns’. Yet, by virtue of their smaller size they often face greater challenges, as losses at one site cannot be covered by profits at another and as a town we need to do what we can to ensure that we don’t lose this important part of our local economy and community. Our tour of local businesses included James Stephens Jewellers in Church Walk, Homes Partnership on the High Street and Loving Hut on Southgate Parade, where we were treated to some fantastic vegan food. As a vegetarian, I will certainly be going back.

Fortified against the cold, I joined my local Unite Community branch in Queens Square for their day of action on Universal Credit. Much has been said about the policy and its problems of late and we’re already seeing the serious consequences of its poor design in Crawley for those claimants who have been put on Universal Credit early. With the full roll-out due this June we stand to see real suffering in Crawley and I have a motion going to the next Full Council meeting calling upon the Government to make the necessary changes before it’s too late.

The day’s not over yet and this evening I’ve been invited to attend the Christmas party of Crawley’s fantastic Inter Faith Network. No party, however, can ever really be considered to be work.

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