Labour Council delivers for Town Centre Business

Town centres across the country are struggling with store closures and empty shops but Crawley Town centre is booming despite this, thanks to Crawley Council leader Peter Lamb’s delivery of the Councils ‘Town Centre Regeneration Programme’. The latest milestone has been achieved when Town Centre businesses voted to form a ‘Business Improvement District’.

Since taking control of the Council in 2014 Cllr Peter Lamb has overseen a continuous programme of delivery including investment in the public realm (e.g. Queens Square reworked and Queensway nearing completion) and encouraging private sector developers to bring forward schemes (e.g. Broadway residential development, Arora Station redevelopment, Crawley College STEM centre and more).

The £60 million Crawley Growth Programme – a partnership between CBC, West Sussex County Council, the Coast to Capital LEP, Manor Royal Business District and Metrobus – is also delivering for Crawley Town Centre with a programme of highway and sustainable transport improvements underway. In fact, Cllr Peter Lamb was the first council leader in West Sussex to sign a growth deal with WSCC.

And now Town Centre Businesses have voted to form a Business Improvement District designed to raise a further £2.5 million of levy funding to be used for the benefit of Town Centre businesses and to create a formal body to represent the diverse interests of Town Centre business. The Town Centre BID has an ambitious programme of work in front of it when it starts in April next year including:

  • A year long calendar of Town Centre events
  • A Food and Farmers market
  • Promoting Business in the Town Centre and Historic High Street
  • Showcasing Town centre businesses
  • Dedicated Town Centre focussed Social Media and website
  • Business networking facilities
  • And more!

The Town Centre BID will be the second BID in Crawley after the highly successful Manor Royal Business District presenting opportunities for joint working and promotion of a ‘Crawley Business Offer’.

Peter Lamb, Crawley Council Leader and Labour’s Candidate in Crawley, said: “The Council has supported the creation of the new Town Centre BID as it will further improve the Business environment in Crawley and help to maintain and grow a successful Crawley economy. Under my leadership we have a track record of delivering for Crawley businesses across the Town helping to maintain a strong retail offer for both residents and visitors alike and to provide good, well paid jobs for Crawley people.

This is our latest step towards making Crawley ‘the place for Business’ in the South East providing good jobs and opportunities for Crawley residents young and old. We plan to continue to roll out further initiatives in the future so ‘watch this space’!”

Peter Lamb condemns impact on Crawley people of Tory underfunding for our NHS

New data obtained by Labour under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed a huge increase in the number of cancelled operations caused by staffing issues and equipment failures – in other words for non-clinical reasons.

Last year, 78,981 operations were cancelled nationally. These operations, some classed as urgent, were cancelled at the last minute often after the patient had already arrived at hospital. The number of operations cancelled because of staffing issues and equipment failures have each increased by a third in the last two years.

Figures for Surrey and Sussex NHS Trust show that there has been close to a 30% increase in these cancelled operations over the past three years affecting a total of 3397 local people.

Commenting on the findings, Labour Parliamentary Candidate Peter Lamb said: “The simple truth is that under the Tories, patients always wait longer for vital care, but when you see really local figures like these you realise it is a price being paid by way too many decent people right here in Crawley.

“This is about the lack of proper funding for our NHS. With over 100,000 staff vacancies nationally and increasing cuts to the Capital Budgets the staff that remain come under enormous pressure. It’s only thanks to our amazing NHS staff that these figures aren’t worse. They are clearly doing their best every day, but without adequate funding their hands are tied.

“That’s why this general election is about the future of the NHS and ensuring quality care for all.  Only Labour will fully fund our NHS and safeguard it from a Trump deal sell off that could cost the NHS millions every week.”

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “That so many more people in pain and distress are forced to endure cancelled operations, including increasingly on the day they were supposed to have treatment, is a shameful indictment of a decade of Tory cutbacks running our NHS into the ground.”

Peter Lamb welcomes Labour’s Broadband announcement which would benefit 45,875 homes and businesses in Crawley

In a major announcement Labour has set out plans to deliver free full fibre broadband for all by bringing parts of BT into public ownership and creating a new British Broadband public service. In Crawley, 45,875 households and businesses (98.8 per cent of all premises) will get a stronger, more reliable internet connection.

The announcement is central to Labour’s plans to transform our country and economy and bring communities together in an inclusive and connected society.

Leader of Crawley Council and Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Peter Lamb said; “This is an important announcement and a welcome one for businesses and people in Crawley. By creating this new public service a Labour Government will deliver the fastest broadband free to everyone. That will transform the future of
our economy and society.

“The internet is no longer a luxury, it is a central part of our lives, an essential utility. It brings opportunities for work, creativity, entertainment and friendship and those unable to afford or access broadband find themselves excluded from an important part of 21 st century life.

“That’s why it makes complete sense to make superfast broadband a public service, because it will help create the more inclusive and connected society we all want to see.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey, Labour’s Shadow BEIS Secretary has said: “As Shadow Business Secretary, I know all too well the importance of strong digital infrastructure for businesses and industry across the UK.”

“Imagine if all those currently shut out of the labour market, such as those with childcare or caring responsibilities, those unfairly disadvantaged due to disability or older people, could participate fully through free, fast internet access from wherever they are.”

“If we are to be at forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and a global economic player, we must speed up the adoption of technologies across our economy.”

“But this can only be done if the best possible digital infrastructure is in place.”

Labour will give 30 hours free childcare a week to 3,537 two to four year-olds in Crawley

The radical expansion of free childcare to all exceeds all other political party’s offers, and will save
families thousands of pounds a year. It will be accompanied by opening a Sure Start centre in every
community to unlock the potential of all our children.

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner has outlined Labour’s £1 billion investment to reverse the
Conservatives’ austerity cuts by opening 1,000 new Sure Start centres across England replacing the 1,000
closed since 2010.

Labour’s plans to radically expand free childcare to 30 hours a week for all 2-4 year olds, saving families
thousands of pounds a year.
Analysis by the House of Commons Library, found that Labour’s expansion of free childcare would see:
· a family with one 2 year old (currently ineligible for childcare support) save over £5,000 a year
· families with 2-4 year olds (currently only eligible for 15 hours childcare support) save over £2,500 a year.

This comes as new analysis shows childcare costs have risen twice as fast as wages under the Tories.

Peter Lamb, Crawley Council Leader and Labour’s Candidate in Crawley, said: “This policy is about the real
change that the next Labour government is going to bring to people’s lives.

“Just imagine how much easier this will make life and work for the parents of young families in Crawley.

“You can’t trust the Tories and the Lib Dems with childcare – they cut more than a thousand Sure Start
centers across the country and told us it’s impossible for the state to make people’s lives better by helping
with childcare.

“Yet I’ve met families across Crawley who struggle to afford the childcare they need to return to work. For
too many families that results in the use of foodbanks and rising numbers of children growing up in poverty
in our town, even though at least one parent is working full time.
“This is another example of Labour delivering real change that makes a difference to real people’s lives.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey visits Crawley’s Newest Council Homes

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey visited Crawley this week and Peter Lamb, Council Leader and Labour Parliamentary Candidate was very happy to show the shadow minister around the new truly affordable housing the council has delivered for Crawley people under his leadership.

The development is part of the council’s own affordable housing scheme and is on an ex council depot in the Old Horsham Road. It comprises 22 flats in four blocks and 22 houses in five terraces.

The Council Leader and Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Peter Lamb said: “These have been extremely tough times financially for the council, facing the biggest budget cuts in living memory. But I have been determined that we deliver for local people the truly affordable housing that we so desperately need.

“So I was particularly proud to show Mr Healey what we have achieved.

“This housing is so new that, as we knocked on the doors, we found many of the residents had not yet even registered to vote. So I am keen to encourage anyone in Crawley to make sure they are registered to vote, particularly if they have recently moved. All it takes is a phone call to Electoral Services at the Town Hall on 01293 438346 or it can be done on-line at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

“Under a Labour Government councils like Crawley would be able to deliver so much more of the truly affordable housing which is so desperately needed across the country. As Council Leader I have always said that fixing the housing crisis is a priority because surely we can all agree that every resident should be able to afford a place of their own.”

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey said: “Today there are over a million people struck on council house waiting lists. As a country we are building 30,000 fewer social homes a year than in 2010.

“Labour Council Leaders like Peter are showing people that things do not have to be that way. Even in Opposition in Westminster, council leaders like Peter are making a real difference in housing for their constituents.  In Government, Labour will build one million new, genuinely affordable homes over 10 years.”

Emily Thornberry comes to Crawley to campaign with Labour Candidate and Council Leader Peter Lamb

Shadow Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP visited Crawley on Friday to support Peter Lamb, Crawley Labour’s candidate for Parliament.

The visit began with a trip to Tilgate Park and its Nature Centre, where Council Leader Lamb showed her investments Crawley Borough Council had made in its facilities under his leadership, in the process raising money to pay for local services and offset cuts to the council’s budget made by the Conservative Government.

In the afternoon, Emily and Peter were then joined by other Crawley Labour members to talk with residents at Gossops Green Primary and on the doorstep about what is at stake at this election and Labour’s positive programme for Crawley and the country.

Speaking after the visit, Cllr Lamb said: “I’d like to thank Emily Thornberry for taking the time to come campaign for me.”

“During the last nine years of Conservative Government, Crawley has seen its NHS go into financial special measures, local headteachers have been forced to march on Downing Street to demand the funding our schools need, and police cuts have resulted in a wave of drugs and violence spreading into our neighbourhoods and town centre.

“There is no evidence another five will make anything better. In 2017, Labour came within 2,500 votes of beating the Conservatives in Crawley, with no other party retaining their deposit. On 12 th December it will really be a two-horse race between Labour and the Conservatives, for change or more of the same.”

Crawley Live Column, Winter 2019

Thanks to the time involved in printing and distributing ‘Crawley Live’, all the content has to be written some time before each edition is released. So, writing now I have no idea what, if anything, has been agreed with regard to the two issues which will have the biggest impact on our town for at least the next few years: Brexit and a possible General Election.

Until then my focus is, as it has been since I became Council Leader, finding a way to keep local services running despite a decade of money being taken from Crawley by central government, and with millions more set to go in the near future. We’ve managed it so far by ensuring we raise the most out of the town’s assets, but with each passing year the options are fewer and if money keeps being taken sooner or later we’ll lose our services too.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 6th November 2019

Remembrance Sunday takes place this weekend, the one day a year when we are all expected to spend a little time remembering conflict and the consequences it has for the lives of all those who come into contact with it, whether they’re military or civilians, those on the front-line or those who care for them back home.

For many, Remembrance Sunday conjures images of poppies, soldiers standing to attention and the Cenotaph, and it certainly involves all those things. Yet, I worry all-too-often we acknowledge the formal process of ‘Remembrance’, buying a poppy and standing quietly for two minutes, and learn nothing from it.

Yes, we should remember the dead and the high price wars forced them to pay, but we should remember the living also. Those families for whom the loss of a loved one is not only a source of ongoing pain, but will drive them into financial deprivation. Those physically injured through conflicts, whose bodies will forever carry the wounds and their limitations. Those whose wounds aren’t physical, yet no less painful or debilitating.

Do we remember them too? Do we remember them when the silence is over, when the poppies come off and the day is done? Perhaps some do, I suspect most do not; we certainly don’t like to think about how our country is failing them.

13,000 veterans care currently homeless according to the estimate of one leading military charity, that’s despite councils like Crawley giving housing applications from veterans added weight. Mental health support too is severely lacking, with 6% of current and former servicemen and women believed to be suffering from PTSD alone. While, cuts in incapacity benefits and support for the last decade have hit veterans and civilians with disabilities alike.

For those who have been put in harms way on our behalf we owe a greater debt than two minutes silence once a year. We owe it to them to look at the impact of what service did to them and to put it right, starting with reversing the damage cuts have made to our public services and welfare in recent years

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 30th October 2019

For the last decade, your local councils, schools, NHS, police and public services of all types have been subject to harsh and continuing austerity. The result in Crawley has been headteachers forced to march on Downing Street to demand the funding they require to provide the basics children need to learn, Crawley’s NHS has been officially designated as being in financial Special Measures for years due to insufficient money to cover the cost of residents’s healthcare, and police cuts have seen drugs and knife crime spill out into our local neighbourhoods.

The fact we have been forced to suffer is the result of an ongoing political choice by the Conservatives to prioritise tax cuts for the wealthy over funding our local services, an action taken first in coalition with the Liberal Democrats and more recently on their own. At the same time, to keep themselves in power increasing amounts of money have been sent to Northern Ireland to secure the support of the DUP. I don’t deny that the Northern Irish need investment in their services, but so does England and it’s time we had a Government which recognised that fact.

In coming weeks parties will be promising all manner of things, both policies they believe are inherently right and those they feel are necessary to win the support of the country. The question when it comes to each party is: are they promising enough to ensure we regain the quality of services Crawley deserves, are they in a position where with your support they could get into office and actually deliver it, and does the track-record of that party suggest that when they say they care about our public services we can actually believe them.

Clearly, I have strong views about which party comes out best on those three aspects, but ultimately if we want the services we deserve it’s not enough to go with big promises and bombastic pronouncements, we need to be willing to ask ourselves the hard questions about what we are actually being promised and whether that’s enough to meet the needs of our community.

Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 23rd October 2019

For all the endless talk about Brexit–which will stretch into decades’ worth of negotiations if this deal does go through–you could be forgiven for thinking nothing else was going on in the UK right now, certainly not in the public sector. This is, of course, untrue. Until recent months, most of the public sector had not been engaged in preparing for Brexit in any meaningful way and even now we’ve been given little information on what needs to be done before the deadline just over a week from now.

Despite the dramatic cuts to public spending over the last decade, a fifth of all employment remains in the public sector, so at least some of these people would have to be involved in something other than Brexit. They certainly have been, they’ve been putting out fires, providing loved ones with medical care, teaching our children, catching criminals and defending the borders of our country, and they’ve been doing it with less money and manpower than at any time since the Second World War. No wonder most services are now at the breaking point, where they struggle to meet even the most basic expectations of residents.

This isn’t something which was done to us, this is the direct result of decisions taken by Governments the public elected and as each of Mr Johnson’s spending commitments unravel it’s becoming increasingly clear if the current course is maintained, citizens will no longer be able to expect the types of public services our parents and grandparents benefitted from.

For the last five years, I’ve fought to find alternatives to cuts, but with the Treasury planning to give even more of Crawley’s income to the county council over the coming years, we’re running out of options. From ending weekly bin collections and leaving some grass verges permanently uncut, to closing local play areas and shutting community centres, if the UK maintains this course those will be the easy cuts, after which the tough choices start. This isn’t the future I want for our town, but ultimately the choice is up to the voters.