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‘Evidence of my antisemitism is a joke’ – Crawley Councillor explains her decision to go independent

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Northgate and West Green Councillor Karen Sudan has penned a statement following her decision to leave the Labour party, leaving the council with no party majority.

Her resignation statement reads:

“I have been a member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years. I have outstayed many Party leaders and my resignation is nothing to do with the recent change of leadership.

I was elected to be a voice for the people I represent, but Back Benchers under the current Council leadership have to fight to be heard – even those in the controlling group.

The Coronavirus crisis made it even more important for there to be input from all Councillors and at the outset I suggested setting up a crisis committee (which could, and perhaps should, involve opposition members. Their residents have as much right to representation as others). The Council Leader dismissed this suggestion, even though there was support for it from other Labour members. He said that councillors have no role to play in the current crisis, and he has acted unilaterally all along.

Although I would not say that Peter Lamb has not worked hard or done his best, I believe that CBC’s response to the Crisis has been poorer for lack of input from those of us who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, know our Town and understand ‘our’ residents. We are by no means out of the woods with Coronavirus – only yesterday I was discussing with colleagues at West Sussex CC, the likelihood and danger of localised outbreaks and/or a second wave. All elected representatives should have a voice and a role to play. This goes beyond the many things we have done and are doing as human beings to help one another.

This was my position on Saturday evening when I received a ‘Notice of Investigation’ from Party HQ, accusing me of antisemitism, the ‘evidence’ was three tweets, one posted 2017, another 2018 and one from 2020. This ‘evidence’, which I am prepared to share and put before any judge and jury, fiend or enemy, is a joke.

I do not know what triggered this, but I know from others’ experience how the Party works. While I was a Party member, I would be bound to keep this ‘investigation’ confidential. This would lead to gossip and a stain on my character and a great deal of stress. The ‘investigation’ would be allowed to ‘hang’ indefinitely to be used as an excuse to prevent me standing for office again or accepting office such as a Cabinet position.

I have chosen instead to resign my Party membership so that I can continue to focus on the job I have been elected to do (and I do see it as a job) and so that anyone who wishes to judge me can have available the original documents and make up their own mind about my anti-racist credentials.

Councillor Karen Sudan

Coronavirus

West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

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