Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 2nd January 2019

2018 was a year of great uncertainty, a year we may well be pleased to see the back of. Unfortunately, for those hoping 2019 will mark a return to normality, the country’s failure to resolve the big issues of the past year means that next year is unlikely to be much better.

The biggest issue of all is, of course, Brexit. Crawley’s economy is heavily dependent upon getting some kind of a deal with the EU, with a potentially huge impact for most of our major local employers if nothing is agreed. With the Prime Minister unable to deliver, what will happen next is anyone’s guess, but Crawley’s MP has chosen to pour flames on the fire, rather than to fight our corner right now.

We also wait to see if austerity is actually over. Despite all the promises, Crawley’s Clinical Commissioning Group–responsible for paying for residents’ NHS treatment–remains in financial Special Measures, Sussex Police remain hundreds of officers short from what they had eight years ago helping along the rise of drugs and violence on our streets, and local schools are left without the funding they need to give our children the education they need to build Britain’s future.

In Crawley, the recent review of local government ward boundaries means that for the first time in fifteen years, every councillor will be up for election at the same time. For the last five years, Labour has worked to protect the town from cuts passed down from central government and to build large numbers of new affordable homes for local people, will the town stay the course or go back to stagnation under the Conservatives?

Yet, despite all this uncertainty, we should remain optimistic and not give in to those who profit from apathy. None of the problems we face as a town or a country are irresolvable, they all have solutions if we remain open minded and are prepared to put in the work. Whether we are willing to do what is necessary to thrive, we shall see over the course of 2019. A Happy New Year to you all.

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