As we enter 2013, there are a number of changes and events on the political front. We will have the first full year of the directly-elected PCCs (Police and Crime Commissioners) following the poll in November 2012. This is an experiment in direct democracy as compared to indirect democracy, for example where 37 Crawley Borough Councillors elect our Mayor. Fundamentally, it also an American import. There is nothing wrong with that of course and I wish the new PCCs well.
There have been media reports that the last full meeting of Crawley Borough Council was quite raucous. This is true. There were some exchanges and points made which were unfortunate in terms of the personal upset that they could have caused.
As we approach the Christmas holiday, it is appropriate to reflect on what has been a special year forBritain. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee united the nation in a spirit of celebration. We were able to celebrate the remarkable record of our Head of State and the Duke of Edinburgh in their service to our country.
A key government policy is around the welfare reform agenda. There are more than 60 state benefits that can be claimed, leading to a system of Byzantine complexity. As noted in a previous column, complexity can be disempowering, even disabling, because it can inhibit customer access just as much as any physical obstruction.
Crawley Borough Council conducted a short review in to its Facilities Management services, with a report being produced in September 2010. One of the recommendations agreed was a reduction in the Town Hall Attendant staffing levels of two posts, both of which were vacant at that time.
In Crawley, we have something of a tradition around long-serving councillors. Many of my colleagues, past and present, have extensive track records as Members of local authorities.
I maintain a list of key achievements delivered by the Conservative Crawley Borough Council since May 2006. It is understandable that the Labour Opposition should have wished to suggest alternative courses of action for some of these initiatives but their resistance to others is less easy to understand. Sometimes the opposition seems dogmatic, opportunistic and for its own sake.
Crawley Labour have got it all wrong about The Hawth Theatre yet again. These are the same Socialist Councillors who walked out of the Council Chamber rather than debate the future of Crawley's brilliant theatre.
Last Friday, we saw the election of the first PCCs (Police and Crime Commissioners). Katy Bourne, the Conservative Party candidate, was elected for all of Sussex. I congratulate Katy and wish her well in her new role. She is very able and I am confident that she will serve our county well.
Katy Bourne, the Conservative Party candidate, has been election as the first PCC (Police and Crime Commissioner) for Sussex.