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Peter Lamb: votes are in and it’s back to work

In his article this week Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb talks post election.

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Well, all the votes are now in and counted and the result for Crawley is: just the same as it was before. For the first time in twenty eight years, not a single seat has changed hands. Meanwhile, the popular vote across Crawley was essentially a draw between Labour and the Conservatives, with majorities shrinking significantly in both Labour and Conservative seats.

Crawley is regarded as a ‘bellwether’ constituency, since at each General Election the town has voted the same way as the country, and given that the British public now appears so totally split down the middle on the most basic questions of our national direction, perhaps this result shouldn’t be surprising.

Maybe, both parties should accept the result with a certain amount of humility and realise we probably haven’t yet made the case clearly enough as to why we believe the things we believe. With all-out elections coming next year, we will certainly have our chance.

In the meantime, it’s back to work. The council now needs to reconstitute itself, welcoming new members and making all the formal appointments for coming year.

As for myself, it has been a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire as the bank holiday weekend has been packed with community events, including another fantastic May Fayre in Ifield, and trying to make my way through the significant backlog of casework and policy which the election put on hold over recent weeks.

Just this morning, the first full day back in the office, I have been in meetings discussing how we can significantly improve the way we work at the council in meeting local residents’ needs and a potentially major development for the Town Centre over the next year. After all, there is more to local government than elections.

Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council

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Peter Lamb: Making the railways accountable to the public

In his article this week the Leader of Crawley Borough Council talks about changes needed for the railways.

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It seems as though railways are never really out of the news. In the same week as we’re faced with radical timetable changes, the Government has decided to temporarily nationalise the East Coast Mainline. Railways have a big impact upon Crawley.

Increasing numbers of residents commute to London daily, two-thirds of Crawley’s own workforce lives outside of town and millions of passengers pass through Gatwick monthly. When railways fail the local impact is huge.

The Government’s decision to takeover the East Coast franchise was prompted by poor performance, although they say they intend to hand it back to the private sector in due course. We’ve been round this circle before: companies are brought in and fail, franchises are then taken over by the Government and recover, before being re-privatised.

The irony that many of the companies running the franchises are owned by foreign Governments appears lost on them, but the reality is UK passengers are subsidising other countries’ networks with their high ticket prices.

This has to stop. Since 2002, the physical rail network has been back in public hands and working well again, it’s time to do likewise with the rail companies. It doesn’t even have to cost anything, all we have to do is to wait for the franchises to run out and they automatically revert to public ownership.

As a council, we’ve worked hard to try to improve local rail services, helping to secure the investment for major improvements to both Three Bridges and Crawley, pushing for a solution to ongoing poor performance by GTR and standing up for customers over the gradual reductions in service standards.

Unfortunately, at the end of the day so long as the railways are accountable to these companies and not to the British public, the likelihood of things changing course is low.

Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council

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