News

Festive Season

 For the second year running, we have had a December with ample snow, although this year we did not have a malfunctioning snow machine inCrawleytown centre.  It was good to avoid that piece of irony.  There can be something magical about a snowscape, especially in parts of the country that wear their covering really well.

Renewal, Boom and Bust

 Over the last fortnight, we saw the opening of the new Bewbush and Langley Green Centres.  I was able to attend both openings, the first only in part.  These multi-million pound regeneration schemes are the product of many years work from officers, councillors and partner organisations.

Decisions

 We had a fair amount of snow on Wednesday 1st December which made it a challenging day for everyone.  I commend our Council staff for their commitment and determination in maintaining a high level of service within and outside of the Town Hall.  In that spirit we wanted to proceed with the Cabinet meeting that evening and I am pleased that this decision was well supported by staff and councillors.

How We Build the Future

 Crawley New Town came about through careful planning.  Its development was driven by a high-level master plan that specified the neighbourhoods, housing locations, employment areas and much else.  Thanks to this good and thorough groundwork, we have a thriving community within a relatively compact space inWest Sussex.

Sustainability

 Later this month, there will be a United Nations climate change summit inCancun,Mexico.  It is expected that 194 countries will be represented.  This bringing together of so many nations is surely a great achievement at many levels but with the potential for some embarrassment.  There are some obvious pitfalls to avoid but not everyone does.

Earlier Savings

 Crawley Council made an accurate prediction for the likely reduction in government grant over the four-year period of the CSR (Comprehensive Spending Review).  We reckoned that the annual decrease would be seven percent and so it has proved to be.  I fully understand the need to rein in public spending and the Council had laid its plans accordingly.

No Decision on the North East Sector

 Like its predecessor, the government has failed to reach a decision on the future ofCrawley’s North-East Sector, an area covered by the Pound Hill North ward of Crawley Borough Council.  An announcement was expected by the end of October but has again been deferred at the last minute.  We are told that this decision will be made “soon”.  I understand the pressures on government time but the direction that is finally chosen will have a profound effect onCrawley.

It Was Worse Here

 The four years of the CSR (Comprehensive Spending Review) period will affect us all.  Something had to be done.  Every day we are paying £120 million in interest on the national debt.  We have the biggest budget deficit in the entire G20.  This group contains the top 19 industrial nations plus the European Union, representing some 85% of the total world GNP (Gross National Product).  Our deficit stands out as the largest in this august group.  In meeting our interest payments, we are sending billions of pounds overseas to invest in the public services of foreign governments.

Leadership and Accountability

 Consistent with its interfering ways, the last Labour Government prescribed two political leadership models for local councils.  They required us to choose between the strong leader model and the directly-elected executive mayor model, which is why the Council is currently out to public consultation on the matter.

Universal Benefits

 Last year, the government spent £192 billion on welfare payments.  This incredible figure exceeds the combined total spending for education (£50 billion), health (£98 billion) and defence (£35 billion).  The welfare bill increased by 45 per cent in real terms in the decade to 2009/10.