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Cllr John StanleyMessage from Cllr Peter Smith 

I was devastated to learn of the death of my friend and colleague Cllr John Stanley on Tuesday, at the age of 46. John lived most of his life in Ifield and loved Ifield, Crawley and the Labour party. He worked tirelessly for our community and was a fantastic colleague. I had daily communications from him by text, email and 'phone and he kept me up to date on everything that was going on. He was always good natured and never had a bad word to say about anybody.

This was the last text that I got from him on Tuesday morning: "Morning did you have a good holiday". He knew everything that was going on and cared so much.

I've pictured him leading our successful campaign to get him re-elected to the Council in 2014 and with Chris Oxlade and me during the campaign.  

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I will miss you John and Ifield will be the poorer for your leaving us as well. 

Labour Leader Cllr Peter Lamb said “We are all going to miss John hugely.  He had a heart of gold and never had a bad word to say about anybody.  He was respected by all of his colleagues on the Council and in the Party and was a very hard-working Councillor for Ifield.  Our thoughts go out to his family at this very sad time.”

We will publish funeral details when they are available.  Please leave any messages using the comments item below.

Cllr John Stanley

Message from Cllr Peter Smith  I was devastated to learn of the death of my friend and colleague Cllr John Stanley on Tuesday, at the age of 46. John lived...

Housing is one of our biggest problems and frankly no one is getting to grips with it. 

We stopped building enough homes in the 1970s, after which Right-to-Buy undermined both the financial model for building council housing and the schemes council investment enabled. We're living longer lives in smaller households, so regardless of what happens with freedom of movement we're still going to need many more houses. Failure of supply to keep pace with demand means that not only are there too few homes to go around but, as people outbid one another, higher prices. 

Every week some new initiative is announced to get us building, yet nothing of the scale we need. We were promised that the Housing White Paper would deliver that change and I'm reliably informed the draft paper was everything which was promised, only for all its actual substance to be gutted by Number 10 worried a mass-building programme would play badly in the Tory shires. 

The failure is the planning system itself. Land is the most critical component in housing delivery and our system encourages shortages by only allocating the bare minimum sites in each area for development. So developers then outbid one another for the land, working out what they can sell the units for and subtracting their costs and profit margin to produce their bid. This means from the start our system assumes homes will be sold for the maximum possible price. Worse still, if they pay too much the planning system allows them to avoid local requirements for affordable housing and infrastructure on the grounds of 'viability', the housing equivalent of saying you've spent too much money so we'll let you off your income tax. 

There are two solutions. One, get rid of Planning and let developers build whatever they want wherever they want, prices would certainly drop but everyone would suffer from badly designed localities. Two, look to Crawley's history, another centrally-driven programme of New Town building, buying land at agricultural prices and building out whole communities with the infrastructure they need. Both would work, but I know which one I'd rather see.

Cllr Peter Lamb

Leader Crawley Borough Council

 

Getting a grip on Housing

Housing is one of our biggest problems and frankly no one is getting to grips with it.  We stopped building enough homes in the 1970s, after which Right-to-Buy undermined both...

As kids head back to school, perhaps now is a good time to review the general state of local education.

Over recent years, education has played an increasingly important role in public debate in Crawley. There’s a good reason for this, education remains the best way to improve children’s quality of life, it’s how we have the skills we need to provide high quality public services and deliver the well-qualified workforce the UK requires to succeed in the global economy.

In Crawley, we have some great schools and fantastic teachers, but there have been far too many examples of where those schools have been let down by a Government more interested in ideological experimentation than education.

Having been lauded by our MP, Crawley’s first free school was also the first in the UK to be shut down due to poor performance and at great cost to the local education authority, while the future of our second free school remains uncertain as fundamental planning concerns over pupil safety remain unanswered.

While the Government has bent over backwards to fund free schools, our local schools have been starved of funding, resulting in an unprecedented visit by headteachers to Downing Street to protest at the lack of funding.

Since the election, it has been claimed that this could all be resolved through changes to the National Funding Formula, something our MP has certainly claimed. The trouble is that while shifting money around between schools may well mean that there are some winners, although only because there are some losers under the changes, the schools won’t in reality be any better off.

The reason for this is that while the maximum amount a school can gain under the formula is 5.5%, the National Audit Office’s prediction is that over the next two years rising school costs will be at 8%. Sorry, but rearranging the deckchairs wouldn’t have stopped the Titanic from going down.

Labour’s costed manifesto showed this isn’t inevitable, we can finance our local schools and do so without making cuts to other schools, all that’s needed is the will to do it.

Cllr Peter Lamb,

Leader Crawley Borough Council

Proper funding for Education

As kids head back to school, perhaps now is a good time to review the general state of local education. Over recent years, education has played an increasingly important role...

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