Last week, the full council meeting took place at Crawley Borough Council which saw Labour shamelessly playing political games. The issue raised is very worthy and there is cross-party support for it, but my colleagues and I are actively seeking solutions, not playing politics.
The issue is the very difficult financial situation that West Sussex County Council face with ever increasing service demands, especially for adult social care, and their considering an option to withdraw discretionary housing support from next April. The financial challenges facing the County Council are infinitely greater than those for Crawley Borough Council, who as the statutory local authority for housing happen to be one of the wealthiest borough councils in the UK.
At the meeting, Labour tabled a very long motion that deliberately contained sections that they knew we Conservatives could not support, such as completely ruling out our commitment for Crawley Borough Council to step in to help ensure funding continues locally for Crawley Open House, should WSCC genuinely be unable to do so.
This was a very cynical move for political reasons so that Crawley Labour can claim that we Conservatives are not supporting the homeless. We put forward an amendment to remove these paragraphs plus other superfluous text without adding any words from us, so that the motion could have unanimous cross-party support and would read as follows:
“This Council is extremely concerned about and wishes to express the strongest opposition possible to the proposals coming from West Sussex County Council to cut the housing support grant. Therefore this Council stands with thousands of residents across West Sussex and demands that West Sussex County Council rejects the proposed cuts to Housing Related support”.
Sadly, Labour voted down our amendment leaving us having to abstain on their longer motion as we couldn’t rule out future Crawley Borough Council assistance. We want to work with everyone in our efforts to resolve this funding issue and already the County Council have committed to extend this funding from April to September 2019. However we get there, we’re determined that these vital services continued to be provided.
Councillor Duncan Crow, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Conservative Group
24th October 2018