News

Budget 2010

On Wednesday 10th February, Crawley Council’s Cabinet considers the budget for the financial year 2010/11.  It is proposed that our element of the Council Tax will increase by 1%.  It is actually 0.97% to avoid rounding errors on the bills.  This increase is well below the inflation rate of 2.9% as measured by the CPI (Consumer Price Index).  It was a Conservative election manifesto commitment to keep our tax rises to the rate of inflation or lower.  We are pleased to have done what we said we would do.

Merit

 As the General Election draws nearer, the political parties will increasingly try to draw out the differences between them, to emphasise the choices that are available.  No majority or coalition government can avoid difficult choices with public spending.  They have to address the budget deficit of some £178 billion.  There are limited options around speed of action and emphasis but decisions are fundamentally unavoidable.

State of the Borough 2010

 On Tuesday 26th January, Crawley Council hosted the fourth State of the Borough debate at The Hawth.  This year we had a broader representation on the panel taking questions.  I was joined by Councillors Duncan Crow (Deputy Leader of the Council) and Brenda Smith (Leader of the Opposition); Chief Inspector Steve Curry of Sussex Police and Sue Braysher, Director of West Sussex PCT (Primary Care Trust).  The transcript of the event will be placed on Crawley Council’s website – www.crawley.gov.uk.

Healthcare Here and There

 Republican candidate, Scott Brown, has won a shock victory in the ultra-liberal American state ofMassachusetts.  He becomes a Member of the 100-strong Senate having defeated the candidate from the Democratic Party.  This means that there are now 41 Republican members providing that political party with more options for delaying Democratic legislation.  The election result comes just one year after Barack Obama’s inauguration as President.

New Corporate Plan

 Crawley Council is now preparing its new corporate plan for the period 2010-15.  This is a document that sets out the strategic priorities and direction for the Council over the next five years.  Usually much of this planning achieves broad political consensus.  This reflects the fact that political differences are more often about how we deliver priorities rather than what we actually aim at.

A Year for Change

It is unusual for a British political party to form our national government for many consecutive terms. The Conservatives managed four terms from 1979 to 1997 which was the longest period in modern times. No previous Labour government has lasted two full terms so the current administration has done well in a party political sense, wielding power from 1997 over three full parliaments.

Reflection

 We have had an eventful 2009.  Early on, The Hawth hosted an edition of the BBC’s Question Time and a number of local people had some air time on the small screen.

Seasons Greetings

 As we approach the end of the year,Britainis still in recession but we have great hopes of emerging from this in 2010.  Perhaps our economy will have shrunk by almost five percent during 2009.  Whatever the percentage, it has felt painful and we have all seen some of the consequences.

70 Million

 The Home Secretary, Alan Johnson MP, has said that the United Kingdom‘will cope’ with a population of 70 million people.  That statement on its own seems complacent.  Surely we need more assurance and planning than the view of a potentially here-today, gone-tomorrow politician.

North East Sector Decision

 Last week, we saw a most disappointing decision by John Denham MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.  He was minded to allow a new neighbourhood in the North East Sector, an area covered by the Pound Hill North ward of Crawley Council.  This would be a development of 1,900 homes within the previous full North East Sector allocation area which would have taken 2,500 homes.