Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th December 2018

So, what happened in Crawley in 2018. Well, at Crawley Borough Council we continued building new affordable homes for local people, working hard to secure better job opportunities and maintaining the town’s services in the face of huge cuts from Government. Indeed, despite the wild verges following appalling weather at the start of the year, borough council services residents notice the most–bin collections and grass cutting, continue to improve.

Where other organisations are responsible for services and letting Crawley down, whether its the lack of police on our streets, massive cuts at local academies or the proposed closure of Crawley Post Office, we’ve fought the town’s case all the way.

Unfortunately, this was also the year West Sussex County Council went from being just a poorly performing local authority to moral bankruptcy, consciously taking decisions they know will result in unnecessary deaths on Crawley’s streets. The biggest of these was confirmed in the last fortnight: ending funding for charities providing refuge for the homeless and victims of domestic abuse, in addition to cutting support designed to help the elderly remain in their own homes.

Despite opposition from local MPs, district-level councils, charities and backbench county councillors of every party, West Sussex’s leadership imposed the decision unilaterally. Given that experts proposed workable alternatives, it’s hard to know how Council Leader Goldsmith and Chief Executive Elvery can bear to look at themselves the a mirror, certainly very few of the council’s partner organisations are keen to work with them now that their mask has slipped.

In addition, 2019 saw two issues with potentially huge impacts for Crawley come to the fore. The first is the proposal to enable Gatwick’s standby runway to operate at the same time as its main runway. While this would benefit the local economy, without major investment in infrastructure it’s hard to see how Crawley can cope with the passenger growth. The other issue is obviously Brexit, where it’s becoming clear that, despite promises from our MP, a ‘No Deal’ Brexit will put Crawley residents into significant hardship, for no clear benefit. How these issues will develop, only 2019 knows.

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