News

The Audit Commission

 In 1983, the Audit Commission was set up by the Conservatives.  At one point in the 1990s, the Labour Party was pledged to abolish the organisation and the Conservatives opposed this idea.  Now the coalition government is to scrap the Audit Commission.  Viewpoints can certainly change and switch between the different political parties.

Savings to deliver a Stronger Future

 As we approach the autumn spending review, there is increasing media speculation about the level of savings to be made and where they will occur.  Whoever formed the government in May 2010 would have had to reduce public spending.  Labour were planning cuts of twenty per cent.  It is just that they never told us where these savings would be made.  What they might see as wisdom would better be described as cynicism.

Heritage

 It is really pleasing that Crawley has again received the coveted Green Flag award for three of its green spaces –TilgatePark,GoffsParkandMemorialGardens.  The Green Flag Award scheme is the benchmark national standard for parks and green spaces inEnglandandWales.  For an award to be made, a park has to meet a range of criteria in the assessment.  These areas include maintenance, sustainability, conservation and heritage.

Staycation

 We are in the middle of the two peak weeks of the great British summer holiday.  In recent years, and during the economic crisis, the term ‘staycation’ has become part of the English language.  Last year foreign visits were down by 15 per cent as more of us stayed at home.  There were a number of contributory factors including employment status, less disposable income and the weakness of the pound.

Climate Change

In preparing Crawley Council’s budget for 2010/11, we engaged in a new and quite sophisticated form of public consultation.  This was through using an approach with the rather clumsy acronym of SIMALTO (Simultaneous Multi-Attribute Level Trade-Off).  Using this method, consultees could indicate their preferred areas for service growth or reductions, applying a limited range of resources.

New Freedoms

 For part of last week, I attended the LGA (Local Government Association) conference inBournemouth.  The LGA has as members the vast majority of local councils.  It combines borough, district, county and unitary local authorities to provide a strong national voice for the sector.

The Wrong Referendum

 The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, has announced a referendum, in May 2011, on our voting system for General Elections.  We have used first-past-the-post for a very long time.  The candidate with the most votes in a constituency is elected, but not always with a majority of votes cast.  Essentially we elect the most liked candidate and we might call this a positive motivation.

Crawley Homes

Just over 8,200 dwellings in the town are owned by Crawley Council.  This is one of the largest public housing stocks in the south-east.  Therefore some 20 per cent of Crawley households have the Council as their landlord operating under the name of Crawley Homes.  It follows that we should try and make this service as capable and responsive as we can. 

Emergency Budget

 An emergency budget was promised and it has been delivered.  ‘Emergency’ might seem melodramatic but what else is it when we have an annual deficit of some £165 billion.  The interest repayments on our national debt represent one of the largest single items of government expenditure.  We could not go on like that.

Oil Slick

 Anyone who has had a car with a minor engine leak will know that a little oil can go a long way.  BP has amply established for everyone that a lot of oil can go even further.  The volumes involved are scary and at the same time instructive.