Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 19th February 2020

Most people have probably heard of a King called Canute who tried to order the tide not to come in and got his feet wet, a tale usually told to warn people about their arrogance. There are a few problems with this story. The first is that it’s a legend rather than historical fact, the second is that his name was actually Cnut, and the last is that he knew perfectly well he couldn’t hold back the tide. In the original telling of the story Cnut wasn’t being arrogant, he was trying to show people even the power of an absolute monarch is pretty limited.

Today, every part of the public sector, from the NHS and schools to councils and the police are finding public expectations rising at a time services lack the funding to meet even existing demands. Regardless of the government’s manufactured funding announcements, the reality is after a decade of austerity, there are limits to how efficient services can become.

At Crawley Borough Council, despite the government’s cuts, Crawley Labour has maintained services while limiting the borough’s part of your council tax–just 11% of the total bill–to inflation through working to find new sources of income. There’s a limit to how long this can be maintained and with another five years of this government frontline cuts at some point are inevitable.

Yet, for now we’ve been able to buck the national trend. Our problem with the expectations game is different, it’s that the vast majority of things Crawley gets blamed for are the direct responsibility of Conservative-run County Council. Roads and pavements, parking, adult and child social care, even Crawley’s tip are all run by West Sussex. They take 78% of your council tax, they’re putting it up another £55 this year, and it’s run by the same local Conservatives who will be asking you to give them control of Crawley in May.

The question is, when you look at who is responsible for what, what is working and what is failing, and how each council charges you. Who really provides best the best deal for Crawley residents?

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