Crawley is one of the best towns for enterprise

Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column
Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column

Shockingly Crawley’s Labour county councillors voted against the recent West Sussex budget that aims to deliver a fourth year council tax freeze, £15 million of extra investment in road repairs and £1.5 million to upgrade Queen’s Square.

This highlights a wider problem, local Labour have no aspiration for Crawley, have no positive policies and little to offer our town.

Despite the Crawley Labour Party’s concerted efforts to talk down Crawley and damage our town’s image as a place which offers excellent opportunities for both young people and businesses, I am pleased by the significant progress that has been made in spite of the invidious task of helping to tackle the historic deficit that we inherited.

The number of active firms locally has increased since last year according to the Office for National Statistics, indeed the latest Duport Business Confidence Report reported a record number of new start-up enterprises across our down, up by 25 per cent on the previous year, with company closures down by 2 per cent.

Whilst apprenticeship opportunities are on the up, having increased by 89 per cent, the unemployment claimant rate has fallen by a third to 2.5 per cent in Crawley and local youth unemployment has more than halved to 2.9 per cent over the last four years.

Despite our economy collapsing by under the previous government, statistically more than in the Great Depression of the 1930s, it is now recovering at the fastest rate for five years and the strongest amongst G7 and EU countries. Last year’s growth was 2.8 percent. 

Encouragingly, business confidence and employment opportunities in Crawley are amongst the best in the country, as highlighted by a  recent Santander UK Town & City Business Index report which ranks Crawley as fourth best placed nationally for enterprise, talent, connectivity, wellbeing and cost. 

Last week I was honoured to give the keynote speech at the official groundbreaking ceremony of Rackspace in Manor Royal, which will be the largest data centre in Europe (30 mega watts) and being constructed by Digital Realty to the highest environmental standards with an energy efficiency of 1.7 PUE. The site will also provide 250 jobs.

Crawley is doing well and getting better.