Thursday, 12 June 2014

Crawley Observer Column 11th June 2014

This Friday evening, Labour exercise their first taste of real power at Crawley Borough Council in eight years. So far the omens are not good, given two indications of Council Leader-elect Cllr Peter Lamb that I've noticed.
1 - It appears Labour are lacking in aspiration and have thrown in the towel on major regeneration of Crawley town centre.
2 - Labour risk encouraging a non-payment culture among Council Tenants on Housing Benefit with spare bedrooms, who now pay their own spare room subsidy that other Council Tenants and all taxpayers were previously paying for them. This is because Labour say non-payment will never result in eviction. 
Below is my column in this week's Crawley Observer about Labour's first test in power this coming Friday evening.
New Labour Leader of Crawley Borough Council (far-left) 
This Friday the 13th will see the official changeover of the political control of Crawley Borough Council from Conservative to Labour at the Annual Full Council meeting. Notwithstanding the notoriety of the date, this meeting will be the first major test for both the new Labour administration and the new Conservative opposition as power changes hands.
For the Conservatives, while Labour only narrowly defeated us last month by 37% to 35%, we must be accepting of the town’s democratic verdict and be gracious in defeat. We will ensure a smooth transition of power, will face the future positively, and always be ready should the people of Crawley call upon us once again to run their local Council.

The test for Labour this Friday is far greater as they will be exercising their first taste of power in eight years. At Friday’s Annual Council meeting, Labour will decide the Chairmanships and Vice-Chairmanships of the Committees that carry out Council functions and of the Scrutiny committee which will examine Labour’s policies.
I remember this time eight years ago when political control of the Council last changed hands, from Labour to Conservative. I personally was the creator of our campaign slogan in 2006 of “A fresh new Council and everyone’s invited.” After 35 years of Labour over-dominance on Crawley Borough Council, we were determined to be inclusive; recognising that no one political party has 100% of the vote in Crawley. We gave Labour the Chair of the Development Control Committee, the Vice-Chair of Licensing and the Deputy Mayoralty. Being unafraid of close scrutiny of our policies, we also gave Labour the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee and the LibDems the Scrutiny Vice-Chair.

We called upon the experience and cross-party talents of the Council for the good of the Council and for the good of the town. With Labour now publicly claiming the town hall hasn’t been very open to others, Crawley will be watching closely to see if Labour serve the wider interests of Crawley or the narrow interests of the Labour Party in their appointments of the Council’s Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs."


Nick said...

Did Labour provide any positions?

Duncan Crow said...

We were allowed two minor Vice - Chairmanships. Funnily enough they are the only two that come without a Special Responsability Allowance.

The Council is 20 Labour 16 Conservative 1 UKIP (elected as Conservative). There are 20 positions where an additional Special Responsibility Allowance is paid. One of those is outside the gift of Labour as that is Leader of the Opposition. Of the remaining 19 positions, one is yet to be decided and the remaining 18 have all gone to Labour Councillors.

This means 18 out of Labour's 20 Councillors are receiving an extra Special Responsibility Allowence while only 1 out of 16 Conservative Councillors are.

It feels like a shocking case of greed over merit being Labour's motivation for deciding positions at the Council.