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.

Planning for Extreme Weather

Living in an advanced economy and having a generally temperate climate means that we can often think that any extremes of weather are not going to have much impact on our lives. It is true that developing countries suffer to a much greater extent when there are extreme weather events, but we should not underestimate the potential that extreme weather events of a greater intensity and frequency could have locally.

Emerging Intolerance of the Hard Left

Democracy is something that we can take for granted although many parts of the world still have no democracy at all, or much less freedom to express political views than we enjoy in the west. I am however noticing a new intolerance of freedom of speech from the British Left, headed up by the Momentum organisation that now has seized political control of the Labour Party.

Residency Rights for EU Citizens in the United Kingdom

The UK will be leaving the EU in March 2019 although I feel that news coverage about Brexit is somewhat overplayed. Many things have already been agreed although the media attention perhaps understandably tends to be on matters yet to be resolved. We tend to see those who are trying to sabotage Brexit, presenting leaving the EU as some sort of apocalyptic event, which is of course nonsense.

Action on Violent Crime

None of us like to hear about violent crime in Crawley, especially when weapons are involved. It feels like we are often reading about local reports of stabbings, although the situation is much worse in London which has seen a large number of murders this year. Much of this crime is drug related and tends to occur between criminals rather than innocent members of the public being the victims, although not exclusively so. No one wants it happening or being caught up in it.