Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 11th March 2020

One thing I know really winds up residents is how it doesn’t matter who you complain to, the issue is usually someone else’s fault. For instance, you contact Crawley Borough Council to complain about potholes and you’re told it is down to West Sussex County Council; you call up the county council to complain about a school and you’re told academies don’t report to councils any longer; you write to your MP about the bin collection and you’re told it’s Crawley. I suspect some of the dislike of the European Union itself stemmed from Government’s regularly claiming the reason they couldn’t do something was due to the EU.

That won’t be an issue much longer, but overall the has problem is getting worse as more tiers of government are created and different bits of the public sector are hived off. Local Enterprise Partnerships, Police Commissioners, Transport Boards, academy trusts, the public sector has been fragmented hugely since 2010.

Worse still are those issues which don’t neatly fit into the work of any one organisation. For instance, the Three Bridges Station Enhancement Scheme involves Network Rail–a government agency and the principal land owner, West Sussex County Council–responsible for the access to and from the site, the LEP–principal public funder of the scheme, and Crawley Borough Council–project managers. No one organisation is in control of the scheme and not all the decisions can be taken by every partner, making it almost impossible to deliver a scheme which pleases everyone.

It’s incredibly frustrating and not just for the public, but for all those working in the political system who want to deliver for the people they are accountable to. Unfortunately, there are no signs that this is likely to get any better any soon.

However, there is an opportunity to try and address complex issues bothering you this week at our annual Crawley Question Time, as representatives of all the major organisations responsible for Crawley’s services will be in the same room at the same time, ready to take your questions. Make sure to use this opportunity to be heard.

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