Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 27th February 2019

At tonight’s Full Council I’ll be proposing Crawley Borough Council’s Budget for the year. I’m proud to say after five years of Labour control, and in the face of unprecedented cuts from central government, we’re still spending the same on services today as when I became Council Leader, with improvements in efficiency being reinvested to deliver new services for the town.

It hasn’t been easy, but we said in opposition cuts from government didn’t have to mean cuts on the ground and we’ve proven that there was an alternative. Contrast that to West Sussex County Council, where after years complaining the size of the increase in their grant from Labour Governments was too little, they have gleefully cut Crawley’s services every year under Conservative Governments.

Their approach hasn’t even managed to keep council tax low, Conservative-run West Sussex are demanding a 4% increase in their share of Crawley’s council tax, the Conservative Sussex Police Commissioner has set a 14.5% increase in their share, while Labour Crawley is only proposing a 2.49% increase, roughly in-line with inflation and the lowest in the county again.

With only 12% of your council tax going to Crawley, we’re instead being creative to deal with cuts from government, investing public money wisely to generate better returns–something the Town Hall site redevelopment will increase massively, and generating more income from local facilities by undertaking significant improvement works. Last weekend, I found myself unable to get into Tilgate Park for all the visitors, a facility much improved over the last five years.

Having put money back into grass cutting and neighbourhood maintenance, Crawley is looking particularly good in the sun and it’s great to have families again enjoying the improved Queens Square, a project delivered without spending any Crawley Borough Council money through a clever use of grants.

As Leader of Crawley, housing has been my top priority and in addition to millions for new council housing, this year we’re also creating a reserve to prepare for the worst if the West Sussex Conservatives go through with their immoral cuts to homeless shelters and other vulnerable people’s housing support.

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