Articles

Labour's Offer on Homelessness - Withdrawal of Cooperation and Petulance?

Last year, Crawley Borough Council’s Labour Administration scrapped the Council’s long-standing programme to create additional on-street parking provision for Crawley streets where previous poor planning polices had led to a chronic shortage of residential parking. My Conservative colleagues and I strongly challenged this, but our budget amendment to keep the programme was narrowly defeated by Labour Councillors.

Protecting Crawley Open House

Last week I explained how our County Council has hugely greater financial pressures than our Borough Council, in part because of the ever-rising demand for adult social care as life expectancy increases. By contrast, Crawley Borough Council is one of the wealthiest local authorities in England due to the historical sale of council housing which has generated tens of millions in reserves that are used to provide the Council with a very substantial income. This enabled it to allocate millions upfront for a new town hall to replace a building barely over 50 years old and I note that Crawley Borough Council has just reported a £300,000 annual budget underspend.

Crawley Open House

Two weeks ago in this column, I wrote about welcoming the Government’s £100 m strategy to tackle rough sleeping on England's streets and to end it completely by 2027. This strategy has been widely well-received including by homelessness charities. I also mentioned the excellent work undertaken by our leading local homelessness charity Crawley Open House, and by Crawley Borough Council which has the statutory local authority function for preventing homelessness.

Leaving the EU is not a Venezuelan Outcome

August is often known as the ‘silly season’ when trivial news stories are given prominence due to a lack of issues of more substance during the holiday season. This year has been true to form with some London Labour MPs absurdly criticising Jamie Oliver’s Caribbean rice as cultural appropriation, although I suspect the ‘Chicken Little’ hysteria about Brexit from various politicians (including some Labour Councillors here in Crawley) and media will continue until March next year when the UK leaves the European Union.

The Rough Sleeping Strategy

None of us likes to see people living and sleeping on our streets. It was estimated in 2017 that on any one given night in England, there were 4,750 people sleeping rough. The reasons behind rough sleeping are complex and each case is a personal tragedy. It is an issue that has always been with us and stopping it completely will be very challenging both for this government and future governments, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make ambitious plans to eliminate it.

Tackling Crime

None of us like to hear about crime happening in our town, especially violent crime. The long-term trend is downwards but we do see spikes from time to time. Crime is also changing in its nature reflecting society, with more of it taking place online. I always feel that one crime is one too many but it is a reality that there has always been crime.

Reforming the System for Organ and Tissue Donation

Death is not a subject we generally like to talk about, but along with taxes it is the other certainty that we all have in life. Unexpected and sudden deaths of our loved ones are one of the hardest things we experience in life. At such times, it is understandable that conversations about donating organs can be difficult when relatives are dealing with shock and grief.