Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 1st April 2020

I’d like to start by thanking everyone doing their bit to get the UK through this national emergency.

NHS workers, many of whom have returned to the profession to confront this crisis, saving lives in an overstretched system. Key workers, real ones, putting themselves at risk to ensure vital industries function throughout the outbreak. Volunteers and those supporting mutual aid efforts, helping meet the needs of vulnerable neighbours in this difficult time. Indeed, everyone following the rules by self-isolating, buying only what they need from the shops, maintaining physical distancing, hand-washing, and minimising face-touching, all helping the national fight against the pandemic.

As council leader, I should pay particular tribute to the council workers who are maintaining key services like bin collections, helping to enforce physical distancing, and taking on radically different roles to support front-line efforts to get Crawley through this outbreak.

Of course, there are always the few who just don’t get it. Even in WWII there were those who failed to dim their lights during blackouts, jeopardising their family and all those around them. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

One person ignoring the rules will infect three, over ten iterations that’s 59,000 people infected. 10% will need intensive care, that’s 5,900 people when the country has only 1,000 ICU beds. 1,180 will die, two and a half times more than total British fatalities in the Afghan War. All because one idiot thought they knew better.

Over the weekend there were even reports of people holding parties and operating pub lock-ins. Let me be clear, if a licensed premises breaks the rules we will find out, we will close it down, and we will ensure you never work in the industry again.

Chances are if you’re reading political columns in a local newspaper, you already know this and are following the guidelines, but you probably also know people who are breaking the rules. They aren’t just putting their health at risk, they aren’t just putting your health at risk, they are putting everyone’s health at risk. Confront them and if they won’t listen, report them. Lives literally depend upon it.

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