On 23rd May, for the first time in eight years Labour became the largest party on Crawley Borough Council. After all that time it would be nice to be able to get straight on with the job we’ve been elected to do, unfortunately council procedures mean we are left waiting until the 13th June before we technically take over.
Having spent many months on the campaign trail it could be tempting to use the delay to rest up but there are far too many issues which have been postponed for far too long. Indeed some of the items on the council’s Forward Plan have been waiting for a decision for over a year and a half now. While not every decision will be easy, we are determined to give the council back a sense of direction and get Crawley back on track as soon as possible.
Some of the items which were kicked into touch are much more urgent than others, such as over the market. The growth of internet shopping combined with the recession has forced a rapid change in retail, one which risks ending town centres as we know them.
Yet, even if town centres can no longer rely solely upon retail for their future, we believe they are worth preserving. In addition to being a major potential source of employment, town centres are an important hub for the local community and if they are to survive we need to develop a new model for how they work.
Labour wants a successful town centre and a successful market within that town centre. That isn’t simply a matter of where the market goes, it’s also about helping to ensure that the market has the right mix of stalls and aesthetic appeal to complement the town’s shops.
We are well aware that for many stall-holders action is now urgently required and as we wait for the hand-over date we have been meeting with officers to discuss the next steps for saving the market. Ultimately though, it’s worth remembering that when it comes to the market if residents don’t want to lose it they are going to have to use it.