Having been born in Crawley, gone to school, worked and lived here all my life, I know Crawley well and I’m proud to say that I love our town. Of course we have our issues, who doesn’t, but what’s needed now is practical and creative problem-solving and an end to the in-fighting and chaos of our Conservative council.
On the Tories’ watch we’ve seen day centres for the elderly closed and youth centres shut their doors, Queen’s Square has deteriorated, our roads have been left to decay and our pavements are falling apart. Look around and it’s clear to see the difference the Tories have made to the town.
There’s a huge lack of school places, yet the Tories have allowed Free Schools to squander millions out of the Education budget and recent Tory announcements about money for road repairs neglect to mention that only 3% of the annual West Sussex Highways budget gets spent in Crawley, with a huge drop off in funding scheduled for after the General Election. The Tories claim to be the party of low taxes, yet they even voted against my proposal to freeze council tax for two years and then had the nerve to claim that I opposed a freeze.
We’ve historically benefited from low unemployment but far too little has been done to tackle the poor wages and working conditions Crawley residents face. On average, Crawley residents earn over £5,000 a year less than those who commute into town to work. For economic growth to mean anything it has got to benefit real Crawley households, households which are on average £2,900 worse off since the last election.
I’m out talking with people on the doorstep every week across the town and people are sick and tired of being promised the earth and not seeing anything improve.
We live in difficult times and there’s no magic wand to wave and make everything better but we should start by being honest and open about the difficulties we face and focusing on those areas which make the most difference to people’s lives. We must never forget that residents deserve a council which is on their side and not simply the Crawley branch of an out of touch government.
Cllr Chris Oxlade, Labour Ifield and Ifield West