I know one of the things residents find most annoying is when they’ve had to go to the trouble of reporting a problem, only then finding out it’s actually the responsibility of the other local council for our area. I promise you, it’s no less annoying for councillors.
As Leader of Crawley Borough Council, I find most of the complaints I receive actually relate to services run by West Sussex County Council. On one hand, it’s incredibly frustrating for both residents and myself when they raise issues with me that I don’t actually have any more power to resolve than they do. On the other hand, with Crawley having one council run by Labour councillors and the other by Conservative councillors, it’s very telling the services run by local Conservatives are the ones people spend their time complaining about.
Wherever you go canvassing in Crawley, the issues residents raise more than any other are three West Sussex County Council responsibilities: parking, pavements, and potholes. Year-in, year-out, people see local highway conditions get worse and unfortunately it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon.
Funding for Highways in West Sussex has in only the last year been cut almost a quarter, leaving just under £21m to maintain all the roads and pavements in the county. To put that figure into context, the Vehicle Excise Duty—commonly known as Road Tax—paid by West Sussex residents each year is £92m. For what Crawley is paying out, we are getting massively short changed.
Like every local authority, West Sussex County Council has had to endure huge cuts to their funding from while the Conservatives have been in Government. Crawley Borough Council has lost two-thirds of our net revenue. Yet, as a county councillor, I saw first-hand how a bad situation was made far worse by extremely poor leadership. 78% of your council tax goes to West Sussex, they are responsible for the services where residents feel most cheated, and now those same Conservative councillors want your vote for them to run the services in Crawley which are actually still functioning.