Author: pkl204

Free car parking for NHS, social care staff, and volunteers

NHS workers, social care staff and volunteers can now park free of charge in a Crawley Borough Council town centre car park until further notice.

The council is pleased to be able to show its support for the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak by offering free parking at Orchard Street multi-storey – a secure, 24-hour car park less than five minutes’ walk from Crawley Hospital.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said: “Nobody who is working tirelessly to help those people who are most in need – whether they work in the NHS or social care or are volunteering – should be paying parking charges.

“This is the right thing to do in this time of crisis.”

To take advantage of the free car parking all that NHS and social care staff, as well as volunteers, need to do is email parking.services@crawley.gov.uk from their work email address with their:

  • Name
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Telephone number
  • Organisation they are working for.

If they only have a personal email address, they should also provide a copy of their identification badge (preferably photo ID) or volunteer identification.

Crawley Borough Council will set them up on the system and confirm by email when this has been done.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 18th March 2020

With the gradual escalation in Government advice around tackling Covid-19, the council has been stepping up work with partners to tackle the outbreak.

On the ground, crisis response is controlled by Local Resilience Forums (LRFs), comprised of local authorities, the NHS, and emergency services, in addition to other public bodies and companies regulating the national infrastructure. Due to its contagiousness, LRFs have been required to maintain plans for dealing with a serious influenza epidemic for some time and earlier this week I was on a conference call with ministers to ensure a joined up approach between national and local government for dealing with the spread of coronavirus.

With a public health system which is free at the point of use and a strong transport logistics, the UK is well-placed to weather the storm and, as ever, people panicking is always the greater problem than the issue they are panicking over. It is good to see that panic buying appears to have now come to an end, even if that is due to the intervention of supermarket bosses rather than the Government.

However, to protect vulnerable groups and limit the pressure on the health system, keeping person-to-person contact to an absolute minimum and ensuring strict adherence to rules around personal hygiene are vital. We all have direct personal responsibility for dealing with this crisis.

We are asking people to only visit the Town Hall in the event of an actual emergency and we will be cancelling council events for the time-being. The community’s reaction has been fantastic and we will be looking to work with volunteers and community groups to ensure that provision is put in place across Crawley to support those who required to self-isolate, particularly vulnerable adults.

I am also aware large numbers of residents face serious financial difficulties as a result of the epidemic, particularly those working in aviation, and I have raised with the Government and will continue to raise the importance of financial support being made available. We will also be looking to see what limited amount we can do locally to help provide such support.

Access to Town Hall services

In the interest of maintaining the safety of our staff and visitors and slowing the spread of the virus, we are asking residents to not come into the Town Hall unless you have an appointment or it’s an emergency. Doing this will ensure we can keep essential services running.

Council services including rubbish, recycling and garden waste updates, your Council Tax account and much more can be accessed online via MyCrawley or call the Contact Centre between 8.30am and 5pm.

We have also added information and advice for residents and businesses on Coronavirus and the council’s response to the outbreak.

http://www.crawley.gov.uk/pw/Community_and_Neighbourhoods/ProtectingCrawley/Coronavirus/index.htm

Crawley Live Column, Spring 2020

The news has been too negative for too long. So, as we start this new decade, I’d like to talk about the hopes I have for Crawley’s future.

Big changes are ahead of us and, understandably, that causes concerns. The decline of the high street, automation, and moving to zero carbon all come at a cost, but they bring opportunities too. Cottage weavers, with reason, feared the mills but the industrial revolution they heralded created an explosion in household incomes.

Crawley is fantastically well-placed to succeed in this new economy. Our transport links rival any in the country and the council’s investment in ultrafast broadband will create a digital infrastructure to rival it.

True, to share the benefits of growth requires retraining people for the jobs of the future and investing in new uses for public spaces, but the changes we face mark a beginning–not an end–for Crawley.

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.

One week until Crawley Question Time 2020

Crawley Question Time is back for another year, giving residents an opportunity to ask questions about topics important to them.

The annual event takes place from 7-9pm on Thursday 12 March at Crawley College in the town centre.

Crawley Question Time takes the form of an independently-chaired general debate and discussion. There are no set topics so attendees can raise any areas or concerns for discussion, such as community safety, planning, health, Gatwick Airport, parking, the economy and so much more!

This year’s confirmed panel is:

  • Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
  • Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of the Opposition at Crawley Borough Council and Cabinet member for Fire & Rescue and Communities at West Sussex County Council
  • Councillor Peter Smith, Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development at Crawley Borough Council
  • Chief Inspector Shane Baker, District Commander, Crawley Police
  • Dr Laura Hill, Acting Clinical Chair, Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group
  • Pennie Ford, Executive Managing Director for the new West Sussex CCG
  • Leon Mukazi, Crawley Youth Mayor.

The event is open to everyone; the public, business leaders and partner organisations. The views and comments expressed will help the council and others to plan work on improving services and the town in general.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “Crawley Question Time is the one time a year residents have the chance to ask questions of all the local decision-makers at the same time, giving people a real opportunity to get to the bottom of the issues which bother them the most.”

“Come along and make sure your voice is heard.”

To register for your free ticket to attend the debate visit www.eventbrite.co.uk and search for ‘Crawley Question Time 2020’.

Free parking is available at the college after 6pm.

If you have any questions about the event, email haveyoursay@crawley.gov.uk or call 01293 438000.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 4th March 2020

Last week was the Budget Meeting of Crawley Borough Council. This is the sixth budget I have produced as council leader since Labour regained control of the council in 2014 and, despite years of cuts under the Conservatives, we have again produced a budget which avoids making any front-line cuts, which invests in affordable housing and local infrastructure, and which delivers a real-terms freeze of Crawley Borough Council’s part of your council tax.

Of course, Crawley only gets 11% of your council tax. Another 11% goes to Sussex Police, and a whopping 78% of your money goes to West Sussex County Council. This year Sussex Police will be putting up their share of your council tax by more than double inflation and West Sussex County Council will be adding an extra £55 to your bill, again above inflation.

Now, West Sussex County Council are responsible for some important things in Crawley, things which do need investment, such as our roads, pavements, parking, adult social care, and children’s social care—which a Government report last year recommended should be removed from them due to ‘systematic and prolonged’ failures. Yet, despite the county council getting the vast majority of our council tax, a percentage which increases every year, every time I go out knocking doors almost everything Crawley residents want to complain about are services run by West Sussex.

To my mind, the big issue is not the amount of money they take, nor is it the fact that the services they are responsible for are so poorly managed, it’s that the services they manage are so appalling when they are taking that amount of our money.

Local Elections will be coming again in May and the local Conservatives who run West Sussex County Council will be asking for your support to win Crawley Borough Council and gain control over the half of local services they don’t currently run. Given all the facts and figures, maybe it’s time they were told to stop trying to take over the only local council delivering value for money and instead focus on getting on with the job they already have.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th February 2020

After four months of rain, it would be tempting to think that now might be a good time to start building an ark. Of course, like any sort of project, when you do need an ark you really needed to have started building it a long time beforehand.

There is almost no one serious left claiming that climate change isn’t real, even oil companies are now investing heavily in renewable energy. Yet, despite the recognition that climate change is happening and that left to continue it will within the lifetime of most people end our current way of life, it is hard to gain public acceptance for even simple changes to be made. The waters are rising, the question is how high it must rise before people will back the necessary changes, or will we start to build our ark to late.

We see this most acutely when it comes to transport. In principle, people are in favour of improving public transport infrastructure, that is right up until the point if affects car usage, even a little bit. Polling even shows that amongst older age groups improving parking is on average still viewed to be a bigger priority than avoiding an environmental catastrophe.

Last year, Crawley Borough Council committed to reduce its own carbon emissions 45% by 2030 and to zero by 2050. At the time this was criticised by some as an inadequate response, but having now received a full audit of the council’s emissions and where they come from it is hard to see how a reduction of this scale can be achieved without major changes to service provision in the town. This isn’t a problem which can be solved just by putting a few solar panels on roofs.

Of course, even with such changes, the council is only a small part of the emissions of the town. Ultimately, for our children and our children’s children to survive we will all have to make sacrifices, some small, some big, but if people continue to oppose every effort we are trying to make one day we’re all going to find ourselves underwater.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 19th February 2020

Most people have probably heard of a King called Canute who tried to order the tide not to come in and got his feet wet, a tale usually told to warn people about their arrogance. There are a few problems with this story. The first is that it’s a legend rather than historical fact, the second is that his name was actually Cnut, and the last is that he knew perfectly well he couldn’t hold back the tide. In the original telling of the story Cnut wasn’t being arrogant, he was trying to show people even the power of an absolute monarch is pretty limited.

Today, every part of the public sector, from the NHS and schools to councils and the police are finding public expectations rising at a time services lack the funding to meet even existing demands. Regardless of the government’s manufactured funding announcements, the reality is after a decade of austerity, there are limits to how efficient services can become.

At Crawley Borough Council, despite the government’s cuts, Crawley Labour has maintained services while limiting the borough’s part of your council tax–just 11% of the total bill–to inflation through working to find new sources of income. There’s a limit to how long this can be maintained and with another five years of this government frontline cuts at some point are inevitable.

Yet, for now we’ve been able to buck the national trend. Our problem with the expectations game is different, it’s that the vast majority of things Crawley gets blamed for are the direct responsibility of Conservative-run County Council. Roads and pavements, parking, adult and child social care, even Crawley’s tip are all run by West Sussex. They take 78% of your council tax, they’re putting it up another £55 this year, and it’s run by the same local Conservatives who will be asking you to give them control of Crawley in May.

The question is, when you look at who is responsible for what, what is working and what is failing, and how each council charges you. Who really provides best the best deal for Crawley residents?

New Cabinet for Crawley Borough Council

A new Cabinet has been appointed at Crawley Borough Council.

Following the death of former councillor Geraint Thomas in November, Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, has chosen Councillor Gurinder Jhans as the new Cabinet member for Environmental Services and Sustainability.

Councillor Jhans is believed to be the first Sikh to hold a Cabinet post at Crawley Borough Council.

The council’s Cabinet is now:

  • Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council
  • Councillor Peter Smith, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development
  • Councillor Ian Irvine, Cabinet member for Housing
  • Councillor Chris Mullins, Cabinet member for Wellbeing
  • Councillor Brenda Smith, Cabinet member for Public Protection and Community Engagement
  • Councillor Gurinder Jhans, Cabinet member for Environmental Services and Sustainability.

Councillor Lamb said: “The world is facing a climate crisis. To survive we need to work decisively and creatively to move the way we work, live and play onto a sustainable footing. With his policy background in Westminster and his passion for making a difference, I know Gurinder is the right candidate for taking on this challenge at Crawley Borough Council.”

For more information on the council’s Cabinet visit www.crawley.gov.uk/democracy