Press Release: Peter Lamb signs letter to Boris Johnson calling for more funding for councils

Cllr Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, has joined with other Labour Leaders from across England and Wales to call on Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister, to end cuts to local government. Tory cuts mean councils have lost 60p out of every £1 that the last Labour Government was spending on local government in 2010. Pressures on councils are increasing – adult social care is crumbling, more children are being taken into care than ever before, and there is a dire shortage of council housing. Hard-working council staff who deliver our services have lost the equivalent of £1 out of every £5 they earned before, and are now the lowest paid in the public sector.

The letter has been signed by over 100 Labour Council Leaders from England and Wales and it calls on the new Prime Minister to immediately invest £2bn in children’s services and £2bn in adult social care, reverse the changes to the council funding formula that have forced the biggest cuts on the most deprived areas, and pledge to use the Spending Review to restore council funding to 2010 levels over the next four years.

Leader of Crawley Borough Council, Peter Lamb, said:

“This letter has my full support. Along with other Labour Council Leaders I am calling on the new Prime Minister to immediately invest £2bn into children’s services and £2bn into adult social care, as well as using the upcoming Spending Review to restore funding to local government to 2010 levels over the next four years.”

“We are delivering a powerful message to the Prime Minister and Chancellor that councils simply cannot take any more cuts. Further cuts to local government by central government will mean that there will be devastating effects for children at risk, disabled adults, and vulnerable older people, as well as on community services up and down the country.”

Press Release: Crawley Labour condemn MP’s failure to support a Woman’s’ Right to Choose and Marriage Equality

Crawley Borough Council Leader and Labour Parliamentary candidate, Cllr Peter Lamb, has called out Crawley MP Henry Smith over his failure to vote to enable access to abortion and same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

Last week the House of Commons passed an historic measure, providing women in Northern Ireland with the right to access an abortion and same-sex Northern Irish couples the right to marry for the first time. In both cases, Crawley’s MP failed to cast a vote. In England and Wales, abortion has been legal since 1967 and same-sex marriage since 2013.

Speaking about Mr Smith’s absences, Cllr Lamb said:

“This was an opportunity for all decent men and women in Parliament to stand up and be counted. Unfortunately, when the time came Crawley’s MP was nowhere to be found, leaving residents wondering just how far women and the LGBT community can rely upon Mr Smith to defend their basic rights.

Open Letter to the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

 

Friday 26th July 2019

 

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street

London

SW1A 2AA

 

 

Dear Mr Johnson,

Firstly, congratulations on your recent appointment as Prime Minister, after so many years seeking the role it must come as something of a relief to have finally made it.

I write as the Leader of Crawley Borough Council, in order to seek a number of assurances on behalf of my community. During your time in public office you have made a number of racist, sexist and homophobic remarks and the idea of having a national leader who genuinely holds such disparaging views of women, ethnic minorities and the LGBT community is clearly a cause of concern for many living in Crawley.

Could confirm these are things you said solely to secure electoral support from those who hold such abhorrent views and not because you actually believe them? I know it is rare to hope that an MP cannot be taken at his word, but such are the times in which we live.

As part of your campaign, you also made a number of spending commitments—perhaps finally recognising that the austerity your party has put our citizens through was a political choice and not a necessity, these included reversing the loss of tens of thousands of police officers which has taken place under the Conservatives and reversing the £4.6bn cuts to schools which have taken place under the Conservatives, both of which commitments are urgently needed in Crawley.

Can you confirm that you do intend to honour your word on these things and that they were not made solely to secure electoral support?

Lastly, you have proposed to both cut the tax rate on company profits and to reduce the taxes paid by those on high incomes. Child poverty has grown considerably during the Conservatives’ time in office, at this point almost one in three of Crawley’s children are forced to live in poverty, over two-thirds of whom live in a family where at least one adult is working. The idea that our country’s Government would make a tax cut on corporate profits and for high earners a bigger priority than tackling poverty in the UK, at the very least for our children, turns the stomach.

Would you be willing to commit to making tackling poverty a bigger priority for your administration than tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations?

Yours sincerely,

 

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader of the Council

Crawley Borough Council

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Imagine if over the last nine years you’d seen your family’s income drop by half, while the Government placed more and more financial obligations on you. Would you have confidence the things you could afford were going to be of the same standard as the things you bought nine years ago?

It is too easy to forget, or just get bored of hearing, that this is what public services–like local councils–are facing.

Bit-by-bit public services are failing. Had voters been told this is what would happen to their services in 2010, and it is worth noting Austerity became Conservative policy only after the General Election, there would have been an outcry. But over nine years the process has been slow enough people either don’t notice or have just come to accept this is the way things are now in Britain.

While all eyes are on Brexit, a third of councils are on the verge of no longer being able to afford to provide the most basic services they are legally obliged to deliver. That’s why here at the Annual Conference of the Local Government Association councils of all parties have come together to stress how serious the situation is as part of the ‘Breaking Point’ campaign.

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt are now making it clear through their leadership campaign spending promises that even the Conservatives believe that there is plenty of money available for services, if we had a Government interested in funding them. Instead, we see these two prospective Conservative leaders do what men like them always do: fight over who can give the biggest tax cut to their wealthy backers.

This is not a priority for our country and certainly not a priority for Crawley. Crawley’s NHS is in financial special measures, local headteachers have marched on Downing Street for better funding for our schools, and we see daily reminders of the disappearance of Police Officers from our streets.

The Government has the money, what it lacks is the will, unfortunately until voters are willing to do something about it, failing public services is the new normal.

Crawley Live Column, Summer 2019

With Crawley’s first all-out elections in fifteen years over, and all the bureaucracy involved in starting a new council year complete, it’s a relief to again be able to focus solely on the challenges facing our town.

The Government has taken the last of Crawley’s grant and I’m determined to avoid cuts, which means trying to make up the difference through money-generating schemes such as the redevelopment of the Town Hall site. Housing continues to be a huge challenge and while we are building hundreds of new affordable homes every year, the challenge we’re now working on is finding new land for homes without losing valuable green space. Gatwick has also changed ownership and there are questions as to what changes at the airport might mean for Crawley.

While the path of our country remains uncertain, whatever happens you will continue to have a council which is on your side.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 26th June 2019

Even now, I suspect there are those who do not realise Crawley’s Crown Post Office has closed, with a reduced range of services being franchised-out to the County Mall branch of WH Smiths instead.

Last year, Crawley Labour members went door-to-door to try and build public pressure to stop the closure. Despite our sizeable petition and the overwhelming opposition expressed in their consultation, the closure went ahead.

Many of us might not be hugely affected by the change, at least until the next set of service reductions, but for those with mobility issues it means accessing their Crown Post Office has gone from parking right next to the building in a disabled bay, to paying to park in County Mall and making the whole way through the shopping centre to access those services. It’s a huge step backwards in accessibility for Crawley’s disabled and elderly residents no longer so stable on their feet, frankly it’s hard to see how it’s legal under the Equality Act.

Adding insult to injury, Post Office Limited have only now sent a representative to the council to answer questions about the closure and, worse, they couldn’t answer a single question about the branch, its profitability before closure, complaints they’ve received about the new franchise or what was done to reduce the impact on vulnerable residents. Crawley has been treated with contempt by what is supposed to be a public service.

The Post Office was never set up to be a business, it existed to provide local access to government services including the postal network. Write to the Government and they say these decisions are left to the Post Office, but write to the Post Office and they say the Government has instructed them to commercialise. So year-by-year services are lost and franchised off, sacrificing the needs of citizens for those of business.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Labour’s announcement that they’d protect branches and used them to create a national bank would give branches the financial stability they need to preserve services for future generations. The question is: will people vote for it?

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 19th June 2019

Since the 2008 global crash it has become popular to talk about the ‘young’ being hard done-by. I don’t disagree the UK’s younger adult population has seen the services their parents received for free being cut back, house prices mean for many house-sharing is the norm until well into their thirties, job security is gone and even thinking about a pension is on hold while they struggle to make ends, but the idea of inter-generational conflict is mistaken.

While the wealthy were certainly living it up, much of our older adult population never benefited from the ‘good times’ as much as the media claims. Today, the elderly are the most dependent upon healthcare at a time when our NHS has been run down to the point of collapse and are forced to give up whatever they have managed to save to pay for the social care our Conservative Government refuses to provide.

Once again, in the fifth richest economy, we find pensioner poverty on the rise, with one in six of our elderly destitute. At the same time, all the support the last Labour government offered to help end pensioner poverty is being stripped back. In our area, the free bus pass alone is even at threat as Conservative-run West Sussex County Council keeps decreasing the hours it covers. That’s the environment in which we now find the over 75s losing their free TV licenses, something Age UK shows will push 50,000 pensioners below the poverty line.

In Crawley, around 4,280 households are set to lose their free TV license, something the last Labour Government introduced to successfully help to tackle the feelings of loneliness and social isolation overwhelmingly found amongst the elderly. It was accepted that this was something the Government would pay for, the Conservatives even ran on a manifesto promising to maintain them, but then in 2015 they shifted the cost onto the BBC without the funding they knew was necessary to sustain it.

Our generations aren’t in conflict, but from TV licenses to house prices, our Conservative government is getting away with taking away things which matter to each generation.

Press Release: Willmott Dixon invests in Sussex growth

Willmott Dixon is following up its successful completion of L3 Technologies’ new flight simulator production and training facility on Gatwick Road in Crawley with a pledge to stimulate more growth in Sussex.

The company, which built the world-leading Nexus facility for L3 Technologies adjacent to another project it delivered, South East Coast Ambulance Service’s new home at Gatwick Diamond, is plotting more opportunity by opening an office at the Regus in Manor Royal Business Park, Crawley.

The new office will provide a base for Willmott Dixon’s Sussex team, expanding the company’s presence as it looks to deliver more projects that play a key role in the county’s future. Another recently completed project, Littlehampton Wave leisure centre, opened its doors to the public in March.

Russell Miller, Willmott Dixon director for delivery in Sussex, explained: “Willmott Dixon has been well established in the county since 1930 when we built Bailiffscourt at Climping near Littlehampton for Lord Moyne. Since then we’ve grown across Sussex and opening our new Gatwick hub, close to where many of our people live, is a natural evolution.

Gatwick is a thriving area and has, along with Sussex, a really bright future with many bold and imaginative initiatives to encourage growth and investment. We want to be part of shaping that by basing ourselves in an area that is close to our partners and customers.”

Cllr Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said: “Crawley Borough Council recognises that for our residents to thrive we need our economy to thrive. We’re working hard, in partnership with private sector and public sector organisations, to ensure Crawley not only remains one of the best places in the region to do business, but keeps improving on that status. Willmott Dixon’s decision to open an office in the town is a great testament to the impact of those efforts and their confidence in the future of Crawley’s economy.”

Willmott Dixon is one of the UK’s largest privately-owned construction firms, and this year won its third Queen’s Award for Enterprise, this time in the category of Sustainable Development.

The prestigious award recognised the company’s ethos to protect and nurture the environment alongside strengthening the wellbeing of communities through skills training, mentoring and volunteering work on community projects, something it aims to increase in Sussex.

Willmott Dixon has a significant track record in the region. Projects delivered by the company include the University of Sussex Medical School and Medical Research building, University of Chichester Academic and Music buildings, Bohunt School in Worthing and Adur Civic Centre.

The new office in Gatwick has been designed to promote an agile, collaborative, project-led working approach. It will accommodate both preconstruction and operations staff, with partners and customers also encouraged to utilise the space.

Russell added: “We’re proud of our legacy in Sussex and are looking forward to being part of its future growth, as well as provide opportunities to help attract and retain the next generation of workers in the county.”

Open letter to Henry Smith on his support for Boris Johnson

Dear Mr Smith,

I noticed with surprise your announcement that you believe Boris Johnson is the best candidate to be our next Prime Minister. In your announcement you explain that you believe he will deliver Brexit, prosperity, an enhanced environment, and global British confidence.

Perhaps it is his intention to deliver Brexit, for good or for ill. Yet, there is no consensus on any of the options in Parliament and without finding common ground there can be no end to the current stalemate. Mr Johnson’s behaviour proves him singularly ill-equipped to find such common ground. Worse, the fact that before the referendum he drafted a column outlining the case for Remain, and once he did opt to campaign for Leave made the now infamously untrue pledge that there would be an extra £350m for the NHS if we left the EU, means it can certainly be questioned whether he has any genuine intentions other than promoting his own career.

As for the other qualities you highlight. I am uncertain whether anyone who has dismissed the concerns of whole industries with the comment “F**k business”, who has written columns disputing the evidence-basis for climate change and whose period as Foreign Secretary resulted in the New York Times writing a piece entitled ‘Boris Johnson Has Ruined Britain’, is really cut out to deliver on any of the things you claim.

Nevertheless, you wish to stand with Mr Johnson, in the same way as your last election address said you were ‘Standing with Theresa May’. Perhaps you can tell me then whether you stand by him when he refers to black people as ‘piccaninnies’ with ‘watermelon smiles’.

Do you stand by him when his careless remarks lead to innocent British journalists being arrested by foreign governments?

Do you stand by him when he blames victims for the Hillsborough disaster?

Do you stand by him when he refers to Muslim women as looking like ‘letterboxes’?

Do you stand by him now as he is calling for a tax break for the wealthy at a time almost a third of the children in your constituency are living in poverty and while local public services teeter on the brink of collapse?

Do you really wish for such a man to be our Prime Minister, a man so prone to mistakes that we now hear his actual Leadership Election strategy involves deliberately avoiding contact with the media for fear of what he might say. Yes, at this stage Mr Johnson looks like the front-runner and loyalty to him now might serve your own career in the long-run, but the people you first and foremost owe your loyalty to are the people you were elected to serve. We are ill-served by this decision. It is one you should reconsider.

Yours sincerely,

Peter

 

Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 12th June 2019

The UK’s GDP, the most common measure for assessing a country’s wealth, is the fifth highest in the world. For our country, one of the 2.5% wealthiest on the planet, to fail so comprehensively in the war against domestic poverty is a clear sign of the failure of our political system to select a Government which cares about its people.

As the UN’ Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Professor Philip Alston, said: “the bottom line is that much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.”

The public services and social security which was our inheritance passed down from the generation which fought to stop the Far Right in WWII are being demolished by ministers either too ignorant to realise the consequences of their actions or who simply don’t care about ordinary people. That’s how we’ve ended up with over 30% of Crawley’s children living in poverty.

For Boris Johnson to propose the UK’s wealthiest citizens should now be given a £9.6bn tax cut is simply grotesque. That is money that should have gone towards our NHS, to local schools, to more police officers, to council services, not to mention doing something about rising child poverty. Of course, Boris is running to be the Conservative Party’s new Leader, meaning everything he is currently saying is designed to appeal to Conservative Party members and not the public. Although, doesn’t that say everything you need to know about Conservative Party members.

None of us outside of the Conservative Party will get a vote on who the next Prime Minister will be, that’s the nature of party politics, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get a say. Conservative MPs will decide which two candidates go through to party members and one of those MPs is Crawley’s. So, if you feel Crawley’s interests are poorly served by MPs putting tax cuts for the rich ahead of public services and tackling poverty, why not let him know and see if he listens when he chooses our next Prime Minister?