Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 28th February 2018

February is a big month for local authorities, as it’s the time we set our budgets for the coming financial year.

As the Government continues cutting our funding, Labour-run Crawley has again delivered a balanced budget without cutting services. In fact, despite Government cuts, the amount spent on services now is the same as it was when we took control, a sharp contrast to eight years of cuts under the Tories.

This hasn’t happened by magic, it was a political choice that rather than accepting austerity and budget cuts, we’d work hard to find the money we need. using the council’s resources to generate the income necessary to deliver high-quality services.

At the same time, we’ve tried to keep council tax low, recognising its impact on residents. While inflation runs at 3%, Crawley’s share of council tax is only increasing 2.55%, a ‘Real terms’ cut. Contrast that with the council tax bill set by the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner, who announced a 7.8% increase, or Tory-run West Sussex County Council, who are asking for an extra £62.19 this year.

Crawley is one of less than a quarter of councils still able to manage a weekly bin collection, the grass keeps getting cut and the roads swept, and all of our leisure facilities remain open, often with newly improved provision. Take a trip to a neighbouring council’s area and you can see the difference.

There’s even new money in the Budget to enhance the appearance of our communities, such as by improving the town’s run-down shrub beds.

The Budget also allows us to keep up the pace with our affordable housing programme, which by May will have delivered its first 1,000 new affordable homes for local people. We’ve already built affordable units on a scale many cities have struggled to manage, but that marks the start and not the end of our ambition to help every local resident to get a roof over their head.

Ours is a Budget built with local people in mind and that’s how Crawley Labour plans to go on delivering for Crawley residents in office.

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