There are just a few more days until the New Year and 2016 is a year I’m looking forward to.
Labour regained control of Crawley Borough Council in 2014, after eight years’ opposition, with a substantial manifesto. What made the manifesto particularly ambitious was that it set out to build a better future for Crawley knowing that, with money tight, improvements were going to have to pay for themselves.
Like any new Leader I wanted to get things going as quickly as possible, but there are always delays. It took three weeks following the election for me to be officially appointed Leader and with the chaos we inherited it took months to get things back in order.
The Local Plan was brought back on track, we refocused the budget process around generating income rather than making cuts and there was a restructure which removed a whole tier of senior management and refocused the other roles on meeting Crawley’s future needs.
Yet, in 2016 much of the programme we kicked off in 2014 actually reaches fruition. Our manifesto had three main areas of focus: homes, jobs and community. Under Labour, Crawley will see 1,000 affordable homes built over four years, with the first set of new sites coming forward in 2016.
In 2016, the redevelopment of Queens Square and its surrounding streets begins, with several other key town centre sites likewise set to come forward over the course of the year. We’re also moving ahead with our new skills strategy, including the planned Gatwick Skills Laboratory to connect the education system up with employers and offer local residents improved career opportunities.
Next year new facilities will be coming online at key leisure sites in the town and a decision will be taken around improving the Town Hall to offer provide a ‘community hub’ for residents and other stakeholders.
In addition, 2016 is the year we finally see the new museum open, Three Bridges Station access arrangements improve and Broadfield Barton redeveloped.
There’s a lot to look forward to as Labour works to build a better future for Crawley. Happy New Year.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Labour group