Elections are exhausting. Countless hours go into every campaign canvassing and leafleting, amongst a vast array of other activities required to fight an election. If most people knew how few people were sustaining our democracy and how much time they give up to do it, they’d be amazed.
Nonetheless, I support retaining Crawley’s annual elections, against Conservative wishes, as they ensure representatives remain in touch with residents and give the public the power to do something about it if they fail.
I joke with Labour canvassers that if a resident raises a problem, it’s probably the county council’s fault. The sad thing is, that tends to be true and this year was no exception. The main issues this year were: potholes, pavements and parking. All county council responsibilities and all failing to meet residents’ expectations.
Parking is a particularly difficult issue. Much of Crawley was built when households couldn’t afford a car, certainly not more than one, with little that can now be done to fix things and every new bay costing on average tens of thousands of pounds. Even starting to address parking would cost more than twice Crawley Borough Council’s annual budget.
Consequently, it came as a surprise that the Conservatives appear to be committing to fixing Crawley’s parking problems on their election leaflets. Putting aside the fact we lack the space and money, they already run the county council, the only organisation with the Highways powers necessary to tackle parking and with a far bigger budget than the borough council. The relevant cabinet member is even a Crawley Conservative.
So if, in the remaining hours of the campaign you have a chance to speak with a Conservative representative, make sure you ask why, if they’re serious about tackling Crawley’s parking issues, they haven’t just done it already?