On Friday 22nd May, we have the Crawley Borough Council AGM (Annual General Meeting). This is the most ceremonial of our Full Council meetings with only the budget meeting coming close with its opportunity for strategic debate. While I am not generally a fan of certain rituals, I believe that we have an AGM with the appropriate level of formality and gravitas.
The AGM includes the appointment of the new Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Borough. These are positions of great importance in our community and it is pleasing that everyone taking on these roles brings something different to them – doing it their way. At the same time, we have the opportunity to say thank you to the outgoing Mayor and Mayoress, Councillor Howard Bloom and Sue Bloom, for their year of outstanding service to the Borough.
We then appoint the Leader, the Cabinet and assign committee places for the 2009/10 Council Year. It is in everyone’s interest that this whole process runs smoothly and the political groups always work hard ahead of the meeting to ensure that this happens. With 37 councillors, there is always a degree of give-and-take, negotiation and manoeuvre to produce the final outcomes that we see.
In looking back at the previous Council Year, it has been notable for the number of new officer appointments as well. We have had a new Chief Executive, two new Directors and four new Heads of Service. That represents seven new appointments out of a top management structure of 19 posts. This just reflects the fact that we are an organisation that changes with the times and the demands placed upon us.
Looking ahead to the new Council Year, we can anticipate a number of new developments. From January 2010, we will see the introduction of CPE (Civil Parking Enforcement) where Crawley Council takes over this role throughout the Borough with benefits for effectiveness of enforcement and the way that the service is resourced.
On the health front, we will continue our campaign for a new Crawley Hospital. Our Decent Homes programme for council housing will be in full swing. We retain our commitment to bringing forward a Town Centre North scheme to achieve a step change in Crawley’s retail offer and to broaden the economy. In support of this, there will be a formal bid for a university presence.
With the right policies in place, Crawley will be in a good position to benefit from the economic recovery whenever that comes. This year is the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s work, Origin of the Species, whose concepts have sometimes been mutated into the expression, “survival of the fittest”. A more appropriate and accurate expression would be, “a promising future for the most adaptable”. Crawley has shown that it can be adaptable and will continue to do so.
Councillor Bob Lanzer, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
20th May 2009