As Leader of Crawley Borough Council I’ve had two major goals over the last four years: build as much affordable housing for local people as quickly as possible and stop the cuts central government has forced onto the council from getting passed onto local residents.
So far we’ve delivered for Crawley, with 1,000 new affordable homes for local people built in four years and the same amount being spent on services today as when I took office, despite our grant from Government being all but gone.
The redevelopment of the Town Hall will help us continue to deliver both of these goals, securing over 100 new affordable homes, a much lower running cost Town Hall, high grade commercial offices to fund local services, a District Heat Network providing low carbon energy to the town centre and another revenue stream for local services, and a new public square.
Unfortunately, an attempt to have the building listed, by a Conservative councillor as a Freedom of Information request to Historic England revealed, has caused the significant delays, but we’re now moving full steam ahead.
Actually, I find the Conservatives’ position on this very confusing. Their leader on the council was pushing for a new Town Hall even when the numbers didn’t stack up, our Conservative MP accepted the rationale for a new Town Hall when we met with him to discuss the proposals and the majority of their councillors voted for the plans when they went before council. So, to find them now claiming incorrectly in their propaganda that it’s a waste of money rather begs the question: why did Conservative members vote for it?
Maybe the simple answer is they are hedging their bets? If it’s a success they can then claim credit and if something goes wrong they can say it was all Labour’s fault. That may be good ‘politics’ but it shows a complete absence of leadership.
Oh well. I’m going to get on with providing affordable housing and finding ways to fund local services despite Government cuts, if they want to try and take the credit later that’s up to them.