Opinion: Crawley Borough Council balance is on a knife edge - Peter Lamb
Three weeks on from the local elections, the result will finally be decided at the Annual Council this Friday.
After two years without an election, when voters went to the polls they delivered a hung council in which there are 18 Conservative, 17 Labour and 1 Independent councillor who was elected as Labour in a seat which strongly voted Labour this year.
This means that council control will be determined by a No Confidence vote on Friday in which the Labour Deputy Mayor, following the resignation of the Mayor, has the casting vote. With everything so finely balanced, one person and one person alone will decide who runs Crawley this Friday: the council’s Independent member.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, the council will be balanced precariously for the next year, with an opposition having the casting vote on most of the council’s committees and with a single absence at a Full Council meeting potentially seeing council control flipping back and forth.
Even during normal times this would be a cause for concern, but these are not normal times.
The world hasn’t yet defeated COVID-19, never mind the challenges which follow in its wake. Crawley’s economy has been hit harder than any other in the country by the Government’s Coronavirus restrictions, yet most of the effects still haven’t been felt and won’t be until the current job projections finally come to an end. When they do we will certainly feel the impact as a town.
With the ban on evictions ending in a week’s time, the tidal wave of private sector evictions we are likely to face of people no longer able to afford their rent will also make itself known. The risk for new public service cuts is also likely, as the sector faces the fact that a decade of austerity has destroyed the financial security of the whole sector.
Getting through these challenges and more, means all those on the council doing what they often claim in leaflets: putting Crawley first, and doing everything we can to get the town through the biggest challenges it has ever faced.