Saturday, 11 March 2017

Labour Scrap Parking Improvements Budget - To Pay For New Town Hall

Boswell Road in Tilgate where the Conservatives provided more parking spaces  

One of my biggest gripes in politics is seeing the hypocrisy of those who say one thing and then do the opposite, and in doing so, not only hiding information but also misleading the public. This is what I believe happened at last month’s full council meeting at Crawley Borough Council.
In May last year, the Crawley Borough Council elections saw the Labour Administration re-elected. This was very much on the back of a parking petition that Labour circulated in marginal wards such as Southgate, Gossops Green and Tilgate, although they masqueraded it as coming from the community rather than what it really was - an overtly political petition.
Added to this, Labour’s election leaflets claimed that neighbourhood parking problems in Crawley were all the fault of the Conservatives and how only Labour could be trusted to deal with it. This was of course all nonsense, but in the same way that fake news can gain currency when people are frustrated about something, I believe Labour’s disingenuous narrative did resonate and ultimately helped Labour to retain political control of the council.
Nine months later at last week’s full council meeting, the following sequence of events unfolded. Firstly we had the budget agenda item. This contained the capital programme of infrastructure investment, which includes the Council’s long-standing annual budget for neighbourhood parking improvements. This was cynically passed by Labour, full in the knowledge of what was coming next.
We then had an agenda item about whether to proceed with a new town hall in which the detailed paperwork for it was not allowed to be seen by the public. Buried within this paperwork was that the £1.247 million that had just been approved for neighbourhood parking improvements in the budget as usual, was secretly being scrapped, with it all going towards the new town hall instead! The Conservative Group moved an amendment to try and save the parking improvements budget but to no avail as Labour’s Councillors voted us down.
In contrast, the Conservatives in Crawley are pledged to not only reintroduce the parking improvements programme - but to expand it. We also have a range of polices to help address parking problems in Crawley whereas Labour's 'policy' is to just blame the County Council because that is Conservative-run. 
There is a view among some Labour Councillors in Crawley that if you make life difficult enough for motorists, that we will all get on our bikes instead. I am all for encouraging cycling but as a Conservative I believe in people having a choice and not being dictated to, and I certainly don't believe in punishing people for wanting to own a car and to be able to park it near their own home.      



Anonymous said...

Can we see the financial justification for the new Town Hall. With the income from the new office space some of which will be sublet, and the new flats which presumably will be sold, there must be a calculation for the payback time. Maybe 10, 15 or 20 years? Can we see those calculations?

Duncan Crow said...

Yes, this should be made publicly available at some point. What I don't know is exactly when. There is commercial sensitivity which councillors are duty-bound to respect which of course I will, but what looks really bad is using this to bury the scrapping of the Parking Improvements Budget, of which there is no commercial sensitivity. What it really comes down to is trying to hide their political embarrassment over cynically leading voters up the garden path in order to win an election.