Councillor Crow’s weekly Conservative column continues to provide me with some entertainment to accompany my cornflakes on Wednesday mornings. I think I have now worked out his template; first, praise the actions of the Conservative central government and/or the Conservative county council and second criticise the Labour Party nationally and then take a swipe at the Labour borough council.
So last week firstly we had praise for the government’s action – with cross-party support, a long time coming and in response to high profile publicity notably from the ‘Blue Planet’ series– on plastics. Of course, Duncan Crow conveniently ignores many other issues where the government is under pressure – often exemplified locally – such as on school funding such as at Thomas Bennett, the national health service, the desperate need for genuinely affordable housing particularly for our young people, insecure employment and the way that immigrants have been treated (Windrush). He also manages to sidestep issues for which the Conservative County Council is responsible and where it is (to put it charitably) struggling – such as potholes, parking and adult social care.
Then, secondly, we had the criticism of the (‘increasingly far left’ whatever that means) Labour Party. He condescendingly finds it ‘very disappointing’ that Crawley Borough Council’s recycling rate is lower than the other (largely rural) parts of West Sussex. As a county councillor as well as borough councillor, he is surely aware of the contrasts between Crawley and other parts of the county in terms of population size and density, economic vitality and demographic. Most people in Crawley live in smaller houses with small or often non-existent gardens compared to at least many parts of West Sussex which is characterised by countryside sprinkled with individual homes, villages and small towns with those homes often set in large gardens. He also does know that the recycling statistics are based on weight of material collected and that the major component of that weight is from grass cuttings and garden clippings etc. It is therefore unsurprising that Crawley’s recycling percentages are relatively low since our gardens tend to be smaller! He also ought to know that the Green Bin service has now been extended to an almost all-year round service in Crawley which should improve Crawley’s recycling percentage and that there has been and continues to be a focus (to be fair supported by the county council) upon improving recycling rates in areas where flats predominate.
What he fails to mention – although he should know it – is that the amount of waste produced per Crawley resident is not only the lowest in West Sussex but one of the lowest in England! In other words, on average, each Crawley resident consumes less of the earth’s precious resources compared to an average resident almost anywhere else in England and anywhere else in West Sussex.
Finally he claims that the borough council either did not respond or (?) did respond in a way that he did not agree with to a communication from central government about recycling rates – and that ‘this’ (whatever ‘this’ was ) was evidence of Labour’s ‘(increasingly far-left) politics’ before ‘what is best’ for our town. What does he mean?!
For the record, at the borough council we are keen to give every encouragement to all Crawley residents to make prudent use of our planet’s finite resources and we work within very tight budgets to provide increasing opportunities for residents to recycle or dispose of unwanted items in a sustainable and responsible way.
Cllr Geraint Thomas
Labour councillor for Northgate