Wednesday, 14 February 2018

University Applications From Crawley Rise By 40% Since 2009

A fundamental reason as to why I have always been a Conservative is that I believe in aspiration and helping people to become the best they can be. One of the best ways to improve prospects for our young people is through education, with further and higher education enabling greater opportunities. I am therefore delighted to see that information released by UCAS (The University and Colleges Admission Service) shows that University applications in Crawley in 2018 have seen a 40% increase,  rising from 25% of 18 year-olds applying in 2009 to 35% in 2018.
This is great news for Crawley’s future although there is still more to do in raising aspirations, increasing educational attainment and having more skills in the workforce in a rapidly changing industrial world. Crawley is still below the national average of 37.4% of 18 year olds applying to University but the gap has significantly shrunk even though University applications have also risen across England as a whole.

No-one’s opportunities in life should be determined or limited by their background or circumstances. There is more to do, but it is also great news that the proportion of disadvantaged 18-year-olds applying to University this year is at a record high of 22.6%.
This follows statistics released last week showing that a record proportion of state school pupils are going both to University, and to highly selective Universities. 77% of young entrants to Russell Group institutions in England were from state schools, and 90% of young entrants to University more broadly came from state schools.

To enable all young people to choose the route that is right for them, the Conservative Government is also investing in apprenticeships and technical qualifications, so all of our young people are able to improve their chances and get on in life. The Government has also announced a major review of student financing, frozen the tuition fee cap and raised the repayment threshold to £25,000, which will save graduates up to £360 per year from this April. We are making real progress for our young people and seeing more than ever grasp increasing opportunities.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Mandatory CCTV In All Slaughterhouses

In Crawley we have an MP who has conviction and who makes a difference. On the 3rd of February 2015, Crawley MP Henry Smith put forward an Adjournment debate in the House of Commons calling for the mandatory introduction of CCTV in slaughterhouses. This followed the release of secret recordings that showed shocking and appalling mistreatment of animals in a slaughterhouse.

Henry stated the following at the time. “CCTV in slaughterhouses provides welfare oversight and helps prevent abuse; something, from the appalling scenes witnessed, is clearly now needed. Most supermarkets have already taken decisive action. All the major chains now insist that their slaughterhouse suppliers have CCTV installed. I am pleased to have support of over 170 MPs, and that 80,000 people have signed a petition on the Government website. Personally I've been vegetarian for over a quarter-of-a-century because of animal welfare and food sustainability reasons, but I believe the vast majority of those who eat meat also want to know that their food has been produced without cruelty."
I agreed with that and took the view that while voluntary introduction at many slaughterhouses was welcome, only the mandatory introduction can truly ensure the safeguards needed at every slaughterhouse. Henry’s efforts paid off when this subsequently became part of the Conservative manifesto in this year’s general election.

Then, last week, the Environment Secretary Michael Gove announced new plans to make CCTV mandatory in all slaughterhouses in England and it looks like the Welsh government is to follow suit. These rules will be phased in over the next year and Food Standards Agency vets will be able to ask to see footage of all areas where livestock are held. Any slaughterhouses found to be failing welfare standards could face a criminal investigation or lose staff licences.

While we do have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, and we should be rightly proud of the way in which the UK has led the way in the protection of animals, Henry Smith recognised that on this issue, there was more to be done and successfully called for positive change.  

Monday, 7 August 2017

Be It Caracas Or Crawley - Jeremy Corbyn's Socialism Never Works

Jeremy Corbyn with former Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chaves   
It is desperately sad to see the ongoing suffering of Venezuela’s 32 million people and how the country has descended into a state of chaos under its far-left socialist regime. More than 100 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces since April, amid shortages of food, medicine and basic provisions. Venezuela’s collapsing economy is seeing inflation of about 800% and the country has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Amid the worsening situation, the Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to Venezuela and all dependents of British Embassy staff have been withdrawn. Criticism of the regime has come from virtually every other South American country as well as other western countries including the UK. The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rightly summed up Venezuela’s president by saying “Maduro is acting like a dictator of an evil regime. He has destroyed Venezuelan economy, eroded human rights and imprisoned thousands.”
Sadly, what is happening in Venezuela is an extreme example of what happens when socialism reaches its natural conclusion of running out of other people’s money. The Venezuelan president is a personal friend of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who as of Monday morning has so far remained silent about recent events, but he and his colleagues weren’t always so quiet, having previously praised Venezuela as a model of socialism. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell once said that former president Hugo Chavez was “an example to any future Labour government in this country” while Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott once said “I think the importance of Venezuela is that it shows another way is possible”. When Corbyn and McDonnell congratulated Nicolas Maduro on succeeding Chavez, they noted his commitment to “continue Hugo Chavez's Socialist revolution in Venezuela”.

Jeremy Corbyn is due to visit Crawley on Monday 7th August to address cheering Labour Party members and Councillors who view him as a Socialist hero. While hailing Jemery Corbyn, they will be ignoring the lessons of our own political history of the 1970s and the late 2000s, as well the terrible decline of Venezuela which shows that ultimately socialism never works. 

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Providing Certainty For Crawley's 6,000 EU Citizens After Brexit

There are those at home and abroad with political agendas who don’t want the UK to be successful outside of the EU. An example of this was last week when we saw an absurd claim that was given wide publicity, which said that our planes won’t fly after Brexit. Such nonsense distracts from the real issues and while I firmly believe that Brexit will benefit our country in the long-term, I also recognise that there are short-term challenges and issued to be resolved.

In Crawley we have over 6,000 registered adult EU nationals (not including Irish citizens) who make a major contribution to our town. Some have been in Crawley well over 20 years and have raised their families here, while others intend to work here temporarily. Providing a fair deal for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in EU countries is a key part of the Brexit negotiations and one that I am very confident will have a good outcome.

While most people rightly recognise that unlimited free movement of people needs to end, most of us also recognise that EU citizens have become an integral part of the economic, cultural and social fabric of our country. The Conservative Government has made it clear that the rights of EU citizens here should be addressed early. This is why a very fair offer has been made to the EU to help provide that certainty for them.

The 3 million EU citizens in the UK will soon have guaranteed certainty about their future in the UK and a reciprocal agreement will provide the same certainty for the more than 1 million UK citizens who live in EU countries. The plan is that applicants who’ve already have five year’s continuous residence in the UK will be immediately eligible for settled status, and those who do not yet meet the five-year threshold by exit day and who arrived before a date yet to be specified after the Article 50 triggering, can stay until they reach that milestone so they too can also secure settled status at a later date.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Addressing Crawley's Neighbourhood Parking Problems

Boswell Road in Tilgate where the Conservatives created parking spaces
From our extensive engagement with Crawley’s residents, we know that residential neighbourhood parking is a top local concern for many people. Under the direction of Crawley Borough Council and its predecessor Urban District Council, parts of Crawley have been built with woefully inadequate residential parking provision. Regrettably, this historical problem still occurs today with Labour encouraging some developments that deliberately have an under provision of parking spaces, with their misguided view that hardly anyone will ever want to use a car.

Back in February, Labour Councillors scrapped Crawley’s popular Residential Parking Improvement Programme that created additional parking spaces out of surplus grass verges. This £1.3 million budget was re-directed to pay for the heating network of the upcoming new Crawley town hall. Our Conservative budget amendment to reinstate the parking improvements budget and seek alternative funding for the new town hall was narrowly lost as Labour have three more Councillors than us.
Labour’s parking ‘policy’ is to blame West Sussex County Council because they manage and maintain the road network, rather than accept it was the Crawley Council’s planning policies that got us here. This is why Crawley Borough Council started the residential parking improvement programme in the first place and we Conservatives want to bring it back, as a key policy among many that we have to help address neighbourhood parking problems.

The good news is that despite Labour ignoring Crawley’s concerns back in February, in April the Conservative government awarded Crawley Borough Council £1.4 million for its District Heat Network for the new town hall. Crawley was one of nine local authorities which were awarded such funding to help create low-carbon and environmentally efficient heating networks.
This means that Labour-run Crawley Borough Council is sitting on £1.3 million of your money that was earmarked for Crawley parking improvements. We want this money released and have submitted a motion to next week’s Full Council meeting calling upon the Council to reinstate the parking improvements budget and to invite Councillors to nominate streets to be considered for parking improvements. If just two Labour Councillors vote with us, this can happen.