Thank you for voting, Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 11th May 2022

A huge thanks to all who took the time to vote in this year’s local elections. I know in Crawley we have to go out to vote more frequently than in most places, with at the very least a local election for the borough or county council taking place every year, but in a town where the result often comes down to a handful of votes, it really does make a difference.

The result last week puts Crawley Borough Council back into majority control after almost two years as a hung council, with Labour gaining two seats and winning the popular vote for the first time in years. Significantly, wards which Labour has not been competitive in since the party’s peak popularity in the 1990s have also become marginal.

With one party back in control, the horse-trading which has had to take place behind closed doors over recent years is no longer required, and the town is able to have the strong leadership it needs to address the major challenges we now face. Crawley Labour were the only party running this year to have produced a local manifesto and consequently you can find out exactly what we are working to deliver for residents by going to the local party’s website.

Unfortunately, this certainty might not last long, with a by-election set to take place in Southgate on 9th June. As Labour are on 18 seats and the Conservatives on 17, the only result which will avoid a hung council is a Labour win. With the Conservatives having come close second in the ward, there’s a real risk of returning to the chaos of uncertainty.

Whatever the outcome, it will be for the new council leader elected at our Annual Council meeting to decide what happens next. After two complete terms as Leader, the first to achieve it under the council’s ‘Strong Leader’ model, I have decided not to seek a third term in the role. I am moving on to new challenges, yet you can be confident I will be continuing to contribute to Crawley in whatever way I can.

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