News

Natural Forces

 In recent weeks, the awesome power of natural forces has been amply demonstrated.  Down in the very English city ofChristchurch, where you can still take a punt on the River Avon, it was a shock to see such loss of life and destruction.  The beautiful country ofNew Zealandlies on geographical fault lines and this is reflected in the building regulations that are applied there.

AV is a Fudge

Along with the impending Crawley Borough Council Election, we also have on 5th May a referendum on the voting system for the election of our MPs. This is a quite rare example of direct democracy being used to reach a decision although there was another example last week, inWales, where people voted to extend the powers of their National Assembly.

The Big Society and Localism

 At the recent State of the Borough Debate, the people attending were able to interact on key questions with electronic voting pads.  Two of the questions were around understanding of the Big Society and localism.  Neither subject got a majority vote for understanding but localism did a little better than the Big Society.

Budget Week

  Crawley Borough Council decides its budget on Wednesday 23rd February.  In common with West Sussex County Council and the Sussex Police Authority, this year’s budget accesses a government grant to freeze the level of Council Tax.  Nobody in Crawley will see an increase in their bill.  This good news follows four years of Crawley setting the lowest Council Tax increases in all of Sussex. 

Dictatorships

 Once again in recent weeks, we have seen popular protests against ruling dictatorships, this time in theMiddle East.  Since the Second World War, we have lived in some remarkable times when we consider the scale of political change across the globe, increased by developments in mass communication.  Although the war protected some democracies and accelerated the end of colonialism, it left in place or brought about a number of new dictatorships.

Refreshing the Corporate Plan

 This week, Crawley Council’s Cabinet will recommend approval of the Council’s refreshed Corporate Plan.  It is this document that sets out the Council’s strategic direction and priorities over the next five years, running to 2016.  The Corporate Plan has been adapted to reflect the changed political agenda with its associated priorities.

Promises

 Following the General Election of 2010, it did not take long for the issue of politicians’ promises to come to prominence.  Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg continues to pay the price for the Liberal Democrat commitment on tuition fees.  Or is ‘commitment’ too strong a word?  It sounds stronger than ‘promise’ but a thesaurus suggests that the two words are close enough in their meaning.

A Tale of Several Hospitals

 Some months ago on a visit to my homevillageofCharlwood, I was able to browse varied displays about local history in the parish hall.  There were many fascinating items including records from Charlwood Cottage Hospital, built in 1872.  The records showed a lot of successful outcomes for patients and some less successful in-patient episodes.  For many of us today, it might seem remarkable that a village like Charlwood had its own hospital, but it was not so unusual.

Mixed Provision

 One of the big political topics of 2010 was the start of Crawley Council’s Review of Management Options for Leisure and Cultural Services.  This review continues and addresses a core area of Council services, which while discretionary, are hugely important and valued right acrossCrawley.  The Council’s substantial investment of public money demonstrates a clear commitment to leisure and culture in Crawley.

Freedom of Speech

 The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has made the welcome announcement thatBritain’s libel laws are to be reviewed.  WhileBritain is a great bastion of freedom of speech, this concept is undermined by some aspects of our defamation laws that leave us open to ridicule.