News

Value for Money

 The independent Audit Commission compares local authorities against a number of factors including council spending per head of population before charges are taken into account.  On that measure,Crawleyis seen as a high spending local authority which is not necessarily a bad thing but should be coupled with evidence of consistent customer satisfaction.  It is therefore important not to be complacent and to continue to seek ways to improve our services and the value for money that they provide.

Change in America

 The landmark election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States has dominated the news.  It was a momentous occasion demonstrating the power of democracy and inspiring belief in that system of government.  There was a high turnout of people motivated to cast their vote for change.  It was refreshing to see voters going to the polling stations in such large numbers in scenes reminiscent of younger democracies such as South Africa.  This contrasted strongly with the apathy that has gripped many countries with a longer heritage of universal suffrage.

Faith, Belief and Culture

Last week at The Hawth, we saw the launch of the first-ever Crawley-specific Faith, Belief and Culture Guide.  It is the result of a collaboration between Crawley Interfaith Network and Crawley Borough Council as well as a number of other groups who have contributed.  The document can be viewed on the Council’s website – www.crawley.gov.uk.

Complex Elections

On 4th November, voters in the United States of America go to the polls to elect their 56th President.  At the last election in 2004, voter turnout was 60.7%, the highest since 1968.  Yet this is still a low figure for selecting somebody often described as being the most powerful person on the planet.  This turnout occurs after an elaborate system of electoral primaries conducted by the two main political parties.

Regions

 Since 1999, theUnited Kingdomhas been testing a loose form of regional government and we inCrawleyare covered by the indirectly elected SEERA (South East England Regional Assembly).  The assembly has a member from each of the 74 councils in the region alongside business, voluntary and environmental partner representatives.  It has been responsible for regional planning, housing and transport.

Lending

 Was today’s financial crisis partly driven by irresponsible lending or irresponsible borrowing?  We might expect institutional lenders generally to know a little more about risk than borrowers, conduct appropriate credit checks and offer sound advice.  The failure of this theory implies large-scale irresponsible lending on an international basis.

Runway Debate

 The changing ownership of Gatwick Airport has understandably re-opened debate about additional runway capacity.  At the council, we have enjoyed working constructively with the existing owner but we can see the reasons for introducing further competition into the operation of the country’s airports.  This competition will hopefully drive any new owner’s vision for Gatwick.  That vision should be much more creative and realistic than just adding one or two extra runways.

In The Community

 We can think of councillors as having three broad roles – representing their ward and the wider community; policy-making and their party interest.  The policy-making role is critical so that elected representatives drive the policy agenda based on a platform that they have already put to electors.  Without this feature in place, councils can become officer-led and nobody elects council officers.  Councillors are there to provide the political leadership although there will be times when we have overlap with the officers’ managerial leadership.

Conference Season

We are in the middle of the political party conference season.  This was for some time a ‘BBB’ seaside circuit with Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton being the favoured locations.  Times have changed and other destinations have entered the preferred list.

Brave and Bold

With the current state of the economy, who would have predicted the launch of another newspaper for Crawley?  This is a decision that has something in common with the post-war designation of Crawley New Town.  It is creative, brave and bold.