Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 6th February 2019

This evening, Crawley Council’s Cabinet will set the budget we’ll be sending to Full Council for members to agree later in the month.

I’ve often written about the unfair way the Government has cut the amount councils and the police get from Income Tax–where those who earn more pay more–and have demanded that we increase Council Tax instead–which hits pensioners and those on low incomes hardest. Well, now they’ve come up with a new bright idea, the ‘Fair Funding Review.’

Under this review, Crawley looks set to have almost a million pounds taken from us, on top of the existing planned cuts to what we get, and have that money given to councils in wealthier areas. Apparently, that’s what ‘Fair’ means when it comes to this Government and our community will have to suffer the consequences of it.

Despite the cuts, Crawley Borough Council are set to spend the same on services next year as when we regained control of the council five years ago, we’re probably the only council in the country that can say that and it hasn’t been easy. When Crawley residents trusted us with their council, we decided to try and find ways to avoid passing the Government’s cuts down onto residents and so far we’ve managed to succeed, finding new ways to raise revenue equal to what the Government are taking.

Contrast that with Conservative-run West Sussex, whose decision to cut from the start has simply forced them to make bigger and bigger cuts over the years. The sad reality is, as a forward-looking council, Crawley’s hard work means our community are now being asked to pay for the incompetence of others.

Still, we’re never without a plan. Our decision to knock down the Town Hall and replace it with a new building with far lower running costs, Grade-A commercial office space for rent, a combined heat and power plant selling low carbon energy across the town centre, and hundreds of new homes, with 40% affordable for local people means that–despite the Government’s best efforts–Crawley Labour will keep delivering for Crawley.

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