Last week was the Budget Meeting of Crawley Borough Council. This is the sixth budget I have produced as council leader since Labour regained control of the council in 2014 and, despite years of cuts under the Conservatives, we have again produced a budget which avoids making any front-line cuts, which invests in affordable housing and local infrastructure, and which delivers a real-terms freeze of Crawley Borough Council’s part of your council tax.
Of course, Crawley only gets 11% of your council tax. Another 11% goes to Sussex Police, and a whopping 78% of your money goes to West Sussex County Council. This year Sussex Police will be putting up their share of your council tax by more than double inflation and West Sussex County Council will be adding an extra £55 to your bill, again above inflation.
Now, West Sussex County Council are responsible for some important things in Crawley, things which do need investment, such as our roads, pavements, parking, adult social care, and children’s social care—which a Government report last year recommended should be removed from them due to ‘systematic and prolonged’ failures. Yet, despite the county council getting the vast majority of our council tax, a percentage which increases every year, every time I go out knocking doors almost everything Crawley residents want to complain about are services run by West Sussex.
To my mind, the big issue is not the amount of money they take, nor is it the fact that the services they are responsible for are so poorly managed, it’s that the services they manage are so appalling when they are taking that amount of our money.
Local Elections will be coming again in May and the local Conservatives who run West Sussex County Council will be asking for your support to win Crawley Borough Council and gain control over the half of local services they don’t currently run. Given all the facts and figures, maybe it’s time they were told to stop trying to take over the only local council delivering value for money and instead focus on getting on with the job they already have.