Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 10th March 2021

The Budget is out and Crawley is getting £21.1m. Good news, or at least it was when it was first announced in July 2019–you might recall the Facebook campaign they ran at the time using public money just before the General Election, only back then the figure plastered everywhere was £25m. The only news in the Budget was that the figure would now be £3.9m lower than previously advertised.

This ‘Town Deal’ money was promised to Crawley to fund improvements which were already needed when we were the densest centre of employment in the UK outside London. Since then, the Government’s coronavirus restrictions have made Crawley the UK’s furlough capital, with 23,000 either unemployed or waiting to see if they have jobs to return to. We desperately need job protection and creation schemes and that’s how Crawley Borough Council plans to spend the money, only we’ll now have less of it and the Government won’t release it until April 2022, by which time it will be too late for thousands of local families.

For almost a year now, we have written to Government raising the unemployment crisis Crawley is facing and how much worse it will become the moment furlough ends, throughout all of which the only response they had was to say we were getting the Town Deal funding and the Budget stuck to this script. Requests for support in the form of major infrastructure, such as the freeport, were instead sent up North to help shore up new Conservative areas and Crawley has been put in the lowest priority of support for Levelling Up funding of all UK authorities. Simply put, now that we’re a safe seat, why bother investing in Crawley?

Well, I’ll tell you why. In March 2020, Crawley had one of the most successful economies in the country, with industrial sectors which were only set to grow in the future, by March 2021 our economy had been hit harder than almost anywhere else. The only reason we are struggling now are decisions taken by this Government and that means they have a moral duty to help put things right.

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