Sunday, 31 May 2015

Is Crawley the most shameless and undemocratic Labour Council in the UK?

On the 7th of May 2015, there were local elections in Crawley alongside the general election. One third of the Council was up for election. Crawley voted 52% Conservative and 37% Labour.

2015 Crawley Local Election Vote Shares

The Conservatives gained two council seats from Labour. The Council became 19 Labour councillors (51.35%) and 18 Conservative councillors (48.65%). In percentage terms, it is believed that Crawley Borough Council’s Conservative group are the largest opposition group out of all 433 principal local authorities in the United Kingdom. They need just one more councillor to take control of the council from Labour.    

The Council has 19 Labour and 18 Conservative Councillors 
At Crawley Borough Council there are 19 roles that attract extra payment for councillors, known as Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs). These range from £14,567 for the Leader of the Council down to £1,189 for the Vice-Chairman of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee. Following the elections, Labour appointed 7 of their 19 Councillors to the Council’s Cabinet. They also appointed a Labour Mayor and a Labour Deputy Mayor.

The last Conservative Administration brought in a ruling that only one SRA could be claimed per councillor, as the previous Labour Administration had seen some councillors claiming more than one. Therefore, once the seven-member Cabinet, Mayor, Deputy Mayor as well as the Leader of the Opposition (all paid an SRA) are taken out of the equation, it leaves 10 Labour and 17 Conservative councillors available to be chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Council's committees.
27 Crawley Councillors available for committee chairs and vice-chairs

At Crawley's Annual Council meeting on the 29th of May, Labour’s 19 councillors appointed 9 Labour councillors from their available 10 and not a single Conservative councillor to be the Council's 9 major committee chairman and vice-chairmen that receive SRA payments. This includes both posts on the Council’s Scrutiny Committee that is supposed to hold the Council’s Cabinet to account.

The vast majority of other councils have opposition chairman or vice-chairman on scrutiny committees, of which not one of the other 432 Councils are believed to have an opposition group as proportionately large as Crawley's Conservative group. Crawley's previous Conservative Administration always gave committee chairs or vice-chair positions to opposition Councillors.  

All 9 paid committee chairs and vice chairs taken by Labour
Crawley Borough Council’s ruling Labour Administration have given 18 out of all 19 of their councillors a role that receives extra SRA payments. Cynically, they claim to believe in fairness and are looking at setting up a 'Fairness Commission' to promote political correctness, or maybe to remind their council tenants to budget for magistrate court fines? The Council's Conservative group have boycotted the panel looking to set up an 'UnFairness Commission' due to Labour’s rank hypocrisy on fairness.

18 of 19 Labour Councillors are being paid an SRA
Crawley Borough Council’s Conservative group have 1 out of all 18 councillors with a responsibility that comes with an SRA payment - their group leader as Leader of the Opposition.
1 of 18 Conservative Councillors are being paid an SRA

This is Crawley Labour Councillor Tim Lunnon. He is one of a kind and rarer than a Giant Panda in the UK, because he is the only Labour Borough Councillor in Crawley not in receipt of extra SRA payments. It is not known if he was in China looking for Pandas in this photo. With no further positions at Crawley Council with SRA payments available, it has been speculated that the Labour Council could create an additional post with an SRA just for Cllr  Lunnon, that would enable him to keep up with Champaign quaffing comrades in Crawley's swanky bars and restaurants.   

Cllr Tim Lunnon - Crawley's only Labour councillor without an SRA 

These are the 17 Conservative Borough Councillors in Crawley who are not in receipt of extra SRA payments. The exception is their Leader Duncan Crow (front middle) who as Leader of the Opposition, is their only councillor to be in a position of special responsibility and receiving an SRA.
The Conservative Group of 18 at Crawley Borough Council
It is hard to see how any fair-minded person can view Labour's actions in Crawley as anything other than sheer greed as well as showing absolute contempt for the democratic verdict delivered by the people of Crawley. By creating such a closed-shop town hall and by displaying an arrogance worthy of FIFA President  Sepp Blatter to Crawley's voters; many will feel that opposition is exactly where this utterly shameless and wholly undemocratic Labour Administration deserve to be after next year's local elections. The people of Crawley will be right to ask if their local Council has become notorious by being the UK's most shameless and undemocratic Labour Council?

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A Great Result For Crawley

This week, in my first Crawley Observer column since the election, I have written about the positive outcomes in the elections here in Crawley. I am of course delighted to have been re-elected in Furnace Green and to see my colleague Francis Guidera newly elected as Borough Councillor for Tilgate.    
Crawley's winning team in 2015
"Last week’s elections in Crawley provided a very decisive result. I am delighted that Henry Smith has been re-elected as our MP for Crawley, as well as a Conservative majority government being elected to govern the UK. We also had local elections in Crawley and the change-around from last year could not be starker.
Last year’s local elections saw Labour win control of Crawley Borough Council with a combined vote share across the town of 37% to the Conservatives 35%. Last week saw the Conservatives secure 52% of the Crawley-wide vote with Labour receiving 37%, UKIP receiving 6% and all other candidates combined receiving 5%. Our 12 local election candidates received over 6000 more votes than Labour’s 12 candidates. This saw nine Conservative candidates elected to Labour’s three.

This was a fantastic result for Crawley Conservatives and I am grateful to everyone in Crawley who voted for their local Conservative candidate in last week’s local elections. We decisively gained two Council seats from Labour which takes the political make-up of Crawley Borough Council to 19 Labour and 18 Conservative councillors.

The political make-up of the Council is as close as it can possibly be. There has never been an opposition group on Crawley Borough Council larger than 16 Councillors before. The Conservative group is now 18 members strong out of the total of 37, meaning that we represent 48.65% of the Council.
Our 18 Councillors will work with Labour’s 19 Councillors for the benefit of the town and I hope that Labour are accepting of the expressed wishes of Crawley’s voters, by jointly working with us and sharing Council responsibilities among more Councillors than just their own. Our new larger team of Councillors is looking forward to serving the town and will always put the interests of Crawley first.

There will be political uncertainty going forward, but I give an undertaking that the good running of the Council will be paramount for Crawley’s Conservatives. We plan to work with Crawley Labour to ensure this and hope they show mutual respect towards us, so that together we can deliver for Crawley. "