News

Limits of Local Government Power

 I have now attended four LGA (Local Government Association) conferences.  At each of these events, I have heard keynote speakers calling for greater devolution of power to local government.  These speakers have been from each of the three main political parties.  In a roundabout way, they have agreed with each other about localism – having decisions made as closely as possible to the people that they affect.

Who was in charge?

 The media traditionally takes an interest in who is running the country during the peak holiday weeks of late July and early August.  They try to come up with the most “provocative” name to attach this responsibility to.  Was it Gordon Brown running the United Kingdomfrom a holiday location in Scotland?  Could it have been Harriet Harman who it was thought would take on the role from 2nd August?  Apparently not as her office said that she was on leave from 5th August.

The Mountain of Debt

 Labour governments have traditionally been quite ready to borrow money and create national debt.  There is nothing wrong with responsible borrowing and lending at an individual or government level.  At the same time, we have seen how irresponsible borrowing and lending acted as a trigger for the current world recession.

Quality and Accuracy of Decisions

 Decisions by national and local politicians can generate concern or consternation and not just because of party politics.  Sometimes the commonsense of the decision is called into question or the competence of the politician(s) making it.  Last week, I wrote questioning the decisions of some of our politicians of all parties in providing the necessary resources to support our armed forces.  This is an example where I question their competence and observe that some of our MPs appear quite clueless on the matter.

Conflict and Contradictions

The government since 1997 has been ready to deploy British service personnel around the world believing that they can be a force for good alongside an ethical foreign policy.  There is ample reason to support this view with the beneficial influence that many British interventions have had.  We can debate the merit of the decisions behind specific military operations but once our forces are on operations, it is rightly the overwhelming desire of everyone to show their support and solidarity.

Manor Royal Improvement Project

 New Towns were always a far-sighted concept and the inclusion of an industrial estate or business park was a particularly creative idea.  WithCrawleyNew Town came Manor Royal and it remains one of the largest business parks in the south-east region.  It is an easy fact to forget but we need to be mindful that Manor Royal, and GatwickAirport, are key and complementary parts of theCrawleyeconomy.  Manor Royal is home to an estimated 500 businesses and 30,000 employees.

Civil Parking Enforcement

On Wednesday 17th June, the Council’s Cabinet will hopefully have approved the introduction of CPE (Civil Parking Enforcement) in Crawley from January 2010.  The new policy involves West Sussex County Council delegating to Crawley Council its responsibility for the enforcement of on-street parking in the Borough.  This change will allow existing parking restrictions to be imposed more effectively.

Leading

 The European Election has produced some extraordinary results with the governing Labour Party receiving just 15.7% of the popular vote across the country.  No form of words can divert attention away from the fact that the government is deeply unpopular.

Fall-Out

 The communist state of North Korea seems like a location that is too remote from Britain for us to care about.  In many respects, this might be true but this week’s nuclear weapon test is an event than can have a much wider fall-out in every sense.  The East-West Cold War ended some 20 years ago and with it some of our focus on the dangers of nuclear proliferation.  Today we have other simultaneous worldwide concerns such as terrorism, recession, global warming and a possible ‘flu pandemic.  The coincidence of these issues could cause you to visualise that somewhere there is a global control room staffed by the people of a fictional organisation from the movies, such as SPECTRE or THRUSH.  

New Council Year

 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.