Thursday, 25 February 2016

An EU Referendum on June 23rd

This week in my Crawley Observer column below, I have written about the EU Referendum that we Conservatives are delivering, as we promised. The picture is one we used before the general election, when Labour and the LibDems were denying the British people their say. Whatever they say now, don't forget the fact that Labour and the LibDems didn't want you to have this vote at all.

Conservatives believe in democracy and deliver on our promises  
Last weekend was historic in modern political times. The cynics have been proved wrong and as we promised, David Cameron has delivered an In/Out EU referendum which will take place on June 23rd. We wanted to deliver this referendum in the last Parliament but were repeatedly blocked by Labour and LibDem MPs who outnumbered Conservative MPs. It took a majority Conservative government to finally give the British people their say on whether we should remain in or leave the European Union.

It was January 1975 when there was a referendum on EEC membership and you would now have to be aged 59 or over to have been able to vote back then. We have a once in a generation EU referendum and I urge everyone that is eligible in Crawley (British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens) to vote and have your say on Britain’s future.
All of Crawley’s political leaders should publicly state their positions. If there was no deal at all, I would vote for Leave. The deal looks like good progress and until I study it, I will remain undecided. I will examine all the facts carefully before announcing at the Crawley Debate taking place on March 8th at the Hawth, which way I intend to vote.

Labour have been found very much wanting on the EU. Not only did Labour pull out all the stops to try and deny the British people a vote on EU membership in the first place, their Crawley councillors and candidates in the upcoming local elections would dogmatically vote to stay in the EU on the existing terms, without the deal that David Cameron achieved. I am certain that Labour councillors and candidates would happily vote for ever-closer political union, no toughening up on migrant benefits and no controls on immigration.
Whichever way the referendum goes, Britain will now stop ever-closer union and will toughen up on immigration and migrant benefits. That makes me already see the EU referendum as a victory, having wanted to see improvements in these areas and having campaigned for years for the British people to have their say.              

Friday, 12 February 2016

Crawley Council Meeting To Debate Golf Course Tree Felling

Councillors Carol Eade, Duncan Crow & Francis Guidera at Tilgate Golf Course
This evening I have issued a press release (below) about Tilgate Golf Course and the Motion I have tabled at Crawley Borough Council. I love walking on the golf course and even have a scenic photo I took there as the background on my phone. I stress that this course of action is not about criticising anyone or playing political games - it is about trying to achieve the best possible outcome all round as quickly as possible.

Concerns over the amount of tree felling and the way the work is being undertaken at Tilgate Golf Course, has led to the two councillors for Furnace Green tabling a notice of motion for the Full Council meeting of Crawley Borough Council being held at Crawley Town Hall on Wednesday 24th February at 7.30pm.
The motion, tabled by Conservative councillors Duncan Crow and Carol Eade calls for greater Council oversight of the woodland management plan and for the Council’s Cabinet Member responsible to seek sound assurances that the second phase of the works will be carried out in a “much more sympathetic way to the natural environment than the first phase”.
Cllr Duncan Crow said “What matters now is the Council getting a grip of the situation as soon as possible. That is why I have taken the unusual step of informing the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing of the motion long before the meeting takes place, because we want to work with him before the Full Council meeting to address the concerns being raised. I have proposed the motion as a driver for action and as an ‘insurance policy’ should enough progress not be made before the meeting.”
Cllr Carol Eade added “While we understand the need for the management of the woodland, residents tell us it is the way it is being carried out and the sheer scale of the felling that is upsetting. We were shocked when we visited the golf course and saw it for ourselves.”
Supporting the motion is Tilgate Councillor Francis Guidera who said “The golf course is in Furnace Green but it is popular with walkers from both Tilgate and Maidenbower too. We must protect the mature trees, trees that help to make the golf course the visually stunning place that it is.”
The Notice of Motion reads:
Tilgate Golf Course is a premier golf course and, as a popular leisure facility in Crawley, is a great asset for the town. Due to its woodland and heathland habitat, the golf course is also an important habitat for wildlife and is a popular area for walking on its footpaths and public rights of way.
On the 8th of February 2016, local councillors from Furnace Green and Tilgate visited the golf course for the first time in 2016 and were shocked at the sheer volume of tree felling. This has left behind an unsightly mess and has damaged footpaths and public rights of ways. This has taken place under the woodland management plan of the golf course operator.

Local councillors welcome that the operator has agreed to a site visit with a group of local residents who regularly walk on the paths through the golf course, to identify any areas of concern for the second phase of the work in the southern half of the golf course and any remedial work needed to reinstate access to existing damaged areas, but feel that as the landowner, Crawley Borough Council should have a greater oversight of the work and its impact.

Therefore, the Council instructs the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing to meet with the golf course operator with a view to;

1.     Seeking sound assurances that the second phase of the woodland management plan is implemented in a much more sympathetic way to the natural environment than the first phase.
2.     Ensuring that the damaged footpaths are returned to a usable condition as soon as is reasonably possible and the adjacent areas cleared, 10 metres either side; of any hazards, such as damaged overhanging branches and sharp broken stumps, as these pose a significant health and safety risk to users and their animals.

3.     Identifying and protecting healthy mature trees from being felled in locations that do not have a detrimental effect on the playing of golf or do not have any negative impact on the management of the woodland.
The Council further requests that the Cabinet Member for Wellbeing maintains a dialogue with the golf course operator throughout the duration of the works and keeps members updated, as appropriate, with the implementation of the woodland management plan.