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A Game of Politics – as the end of the pop-up cycle lanes approaches why isn’t everyone happy?

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Yesterday we exclusively revealed that a change was afoot over the removal of the controversial pop-up cycle lanes in Crawley.

Sources revealed to CN24 how a decision to remove the pop-up cycle lanes was about to be made, but it appears this upcoming decision has caused more political tangling than you might expect.

Instead of the towns political figures banding together to support the removal of what, arguably the majority of residents have wanted to be removed, a game is now afoot over who has done the ‘real’work to make this happen.

The political games of pre-covid have returned with a vengeance and communication, published on social media, between County Council representatives and local councilors has done nothing to appease this.

A tweet published this morning, (3rd Nov) by County Councilor and Crawley Borough Councilor Michael Jones, shows the extent of the discontent based ‘entirely’ due to a response made by the Crawley MP’s office over the pop-up cycle lanes.

The irony, of course, is the extent to how ‘sad’ political games have to be brought in over something the majority of people never wanted.

But don’t expect that to stop points scoring even at dire times like an upcoming lockdown.

When the cycle lanes appeared there was major discontent, with a petition launched, a mass emailing saga erupting to the county council and most of the local leaders – all with one objective – to have the lanes removed.

Now, with a light at the end of a very leaf strewn autumnal tunnel, instead of the political community coming together to admit, quite literally, that the pop-up cycle lanes were – and let’s not beat about the bushes here – a total disaster and we should all be celebrating at their pending removal – it appears everyone wants to take credit for something that is about to happen, or use the blame culture for credit that in-fact no-one knows has had any effect whatsoever.

What’s more, where credit has not been suggested or implied, everyone is angered rather than celebrating. When I say everyone, I of course refer to those with a political point scoring agenda.

Whoever and whatever has happened to help make the change should actually be irrelevant but, let’s be honest, when did that ever matter when there is an opportunity for a quick tweet to score a point?

Henry Smith

‘It is not whether help should be provided – rather how that assistance is best delivered’ writes Crawley MP

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In his article this week Crawley MP Henry Smith addresses the issue that has become the biggest debate of the last week, free meals for children in need.

As Crawley’s MP I continue to call for more help for our local area, and just last week I was able to confirm an additional £510,000 in Government funding for Crawley Borough Council. Our local authority has now received £2.38 million in direct extra support from Government since the start of COVID-19 and that money is provided to help support those most in need across our town.

It is not a question of whether help should be provided – rather how that assistance is best delivered.

This is in addition to the more than £75 million provided to support individuals and businesses in Crawley so far since March. For those amongst us who are most in need, Universal Credit benefits have been increased by an extra £1,000 per year – an additional £20 more per week. That is how I want our Government to directly support mums and dads in Crawley, extra money paid into their bank accounts to help them buy the food they need to feed their families. Money, not vouchers.

To make sure that no one goes without, £63 million has been distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford essentials due to COVID-19 (the school voucher scheme would only offer £20 million in help nationally). West Sussex County Council has received over £737,000 from the Local Authority Emergency Assistance Grant for Food and Essential Supplies. The County Community Hub is continuing to support the most vulnerable; if you or someone you know requires their assistance please visit: https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-and-information/community-hub-covid-19/

We are all feeling the strain of the restrictions on our lives due to Covid and so many people are worried about recovering from its damaging effects on our future economic wellbeing – one of the reasons I have set up and Chair the All-Party Parliamentary Future of Aviation Group, to lobby for this critical, job-providing sector in Crawley. I am working day and night to try to secure Crawley’s future prosperity so there will actually be jobs here for our children in the years to come, and the suggestion that I personally do not care about the children of our town is just so wrong.

I chose to live in Crawley decades ago because of the strong community we are, and I love the generosity of spirit that exists here. Yes, I have previously been unemployed myself and I know the sense of worry that not having a job brings for each family in that situation. I am doing all I can to fight for Crawley right now.

Clearly, many are very unhappy with the way the Government has handled the proposal of providing free school meals during school holidays, but that should not detract from the significant support actually being delivered for Crawley’s most in need already.

I will continue to lobby for more Government-provided financial support. Let us be clear, this needs to be a policy of sustainable assistance, not a one-off gesture.  As for vouchers, the solution lies within the benefits payment system which can flex instantly. If the solution is that additional payments need to be made during school holidays then that is what needs to be put before Parliament for a vote and I will support it.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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