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.
The new and vibrant Council tree logo adopted in 2007 was a case in point, replacing the authoritarian image of a red square on top of a black square. It is easy to oppose a logo and make humorous comments but ultimately most such designs grow on people and gain acceptance. Even the 2012 Olympics logo attracted no critical comment once it had been in circulation for long enough.
Our local media jumped on the bandwagon and tasked people with drawing the new Council logo for free. In doing so, they missed the point that copying something that exists is not the same as creating something afresh. How many of the same people would have done that?
Other initiatives have included setting the lowest Council Tax increases in all of Sussex, reducing the number of departments from 15 to nine and balancing the annual budget. These measures have been fundamental to protecting front-line services and securing capital investment in major projects across Crawley. Yet these efforts too have attracted opposition.
We introduced new management for The Hawth Theatre in the same manner as Labour had for Tilgate Golf Course and K2 Crawley. This was opposed through the media but in the end no Labour councillor voted against it because they all scuttled off during the debate, leaving only Conservatives in the Council Chamber. What is that kind of action called? Opposition through abdication?
Many people would think it natural that we should return boating to Tilgate Lake, so we have. Similarly we are making improvements to the Nature Centre and have resurfaced the Fisherman’s car park. We hope to introduce treetop trails as well. Even the investigation of these options prompted a tirade of Labour scaremongering and blinkered opposition.
Then we had the saga in 2008 of closing two massively under-used play centres. Again, this provoked displays of righteous political indignation, ignoring the fact that Labour had already closed seven of them. This forgetfulness is just not credible.
Most recently we see a failure to take any ownership for the Council’s Play Strategy which had its origins under a Labour Council. The basic principle of closing small, low-value and underused play areas was approved on their watch. This approach, coupled with investment in better, larger facilities had cross-party support but now some of the authors of this policy fail to acknowledge their role in it.
Councillor Bob Lanzer, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
26th November 2012