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‘He has to go’ – calls for resignation of Vice-Chair of Crawley council’s planning committee after comments made during Full Council

The Leader of Crawley Borough Council’s opposition Conservative Group is calling for the removal of the Vice-Chairman of Crawley Borough Council’s Planning Committee from the committee, following what he describes as ‘appalling’ comments at last week’s Full Council meeting at Crawley Town Hall.



Cllr McAleney is Vice-Chairman of Crawley Borough Council Planning Committee.

The issue is around a response that Planning Committee Vice-Chairman Cllr Tom McAleney gave during a debate after some criticism was raised from the Conservatives over the refusal for retrospective planning to Metrobank.

Councillors had highlighted in debate that the Planning Committee had taken a different view when the Council built the Crawley Museum not in accordance with it’s planning permission, with its windows not meeting the specification. The Planning Committee allowed that subsequent retrospective planning application but not that for Metrobank in similar circumstances.

Read the Metrobank story here

Leader of the Opposition Cllr Duncan Crow said:

“Cllr McAleney response was – ‘Of course we treat planning applications from the Council differently from those of multi-national corporations.’

The Conservative Group view Cllr McAleney’s appalling public comment as extremely serious and his position as Planning Committee Vice-Chairman is now untenable.

He has to go because he has publicly stated that his judgement on planning applications is determined by who an applicant happens to be, rather than merits only on planning grounds.

He also said “we” as though he was speaking for other Labour members of the committee who voted to refuse the Metrobank application. 

This means that no one who submits a planning application or indeed the public, can have any confidence whatsoever that Cllr McAleney is acting impartially and solely on planning grounds, as required in planning law. This now leaves the Council very open to planning appeals at great expense to Crawley Council Tax payers.”

Cllr Crow added:

“What needs to happen is that the Council’s Labour Leader, Cllr Peter Lamb, needs to show some leadership and remove Cllr McAleney from the Planning Committee but Cllr McAleney himself should still resign as Vice-Chairman by way of an apology.

It shows Labour’s folly that I warned about at the previous Full Council meeting, of appointing brand new and inexperienced Councillors to positions of responsibility and ignoring those better qualified and experienced Councillors, just because they happen to be Conservatives.” 

But in reponse to the demands from the Conservative leader, the leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb appeared to just shrug off the call saying:

“I believe Cllr McAleneys comments have been taken out of context.

The simple fact is when you look at the history of the planning committee, members have rejected Crawley Borough Council applications in the past and no doubt will continue to do so in the future when they believe it fails on its planning merits.”

In response to the news Cllr McAleney said:

“The statement I made at the meeting was ‘I do not fear a precedent of the council having a slight degree more flexibility than multi-national corporations’. I find it interesting that in seeking to make this a political story Cllr Crow provided two different quotes to Crawley News 24 and a different journalist who attended the meeting.

Under current law, all applications must be treated equally regardless of whether or not they are for publicly owned buildings. I would not object to a change in the law, however this does not impair my ability to evaluate applications under current regulations.

The Conservatives raised a specific Council application relating to Crawley Museum which the committee considered, agreeing to minor amendments after material changes in circumstance were shown which Cllr Crow and Metrobank failed to do. The scale is entirely different to that of Metrobank and the way the corporation has acted with Planning.

This is another occasion where Cllr Crow has sought to politicise a non-political body and failed to be accurate on detail. It’s time he stood down to allow one of his more competent colleagues, such as Cllr Francis Guidera, to effectively lead the opposition.


BREAKING NEWS: Coronavirus cases jump 200% in one week across Crawley



On Monday 14th Sept the new “rule of six” comes into force across England with news breaking today that children under 12 will not be exempt from it.

The new rules mean people are limited to meeting in groups no larger than six people both indoors and outdoors.

The rule ‘could’ potentially be coming slightly too late as new figures for Crawley reveal a 200% jump in recorded cases in just one week.

People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital

Data from the UK public health bodies shows that in last week (2nd – 8th Sept) there were 15 NEW cases reported in Crawley. This number does not seem a lot but when compared to the week(s) before it shows a dramatic jump.

In only the previous week there were only 5 new cases reported, with 4 separate days reporting no cases at all.

But in the past week this figure jumped with 8 reported in one day alone.

So far the worst single day for reported cases in Crawley was back on the 28th April when 19 cases were reported in a day.

To date, since recording began there have been 502 cases, with 77 of these resulting in death.

As more parts of the UK are also having to deal with stricter lock down restrictions Crawley remains below the national average of cases per 100,000 at 13. The national average is currently 18.

The towns neighbour, Horsham, saw an even greater rise of 360% with 23 cases reported between 2-8 Sept.

Across the UK an additional 3.497 cases were reported in the past 24 hours, an increase of 36% on the same day a week ago, taking the total to 365,174.

A local doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, said her and her colleagues were very worried about how too many people were downplaying the risk of infection.

“I hear every day some people talking about how the number of people in hospital through Covid are so low so we shouldn’t worry about the number of cases increasing – but we should. People need to realise the harm it can do you without putting you directly in hospital.”

But questions on how the new rules will be enforced are still not clear with new statements released from the Police that talk about ‘engaging, encouraging and explaining’ before even considering taking any action.

A source close to Sussex Police has told Crawley News 24 that there is both confusion and dismay within the ranks about who and how officers are going to contend with issues of larger groups than allowed meeting up, while juggling the increase of daily issues that are returning since the full lockdown.

Another source said they were awaiting a full outline of what powers the police really will have on Monday (14th Sept) before officers would be given full guidance on what they should do.

Sussex Police told Crawley News 24:

“As we start to see a rise in infections it is vitally important that we all follow the regulations and restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.

Everyone has a role to play limiting the outbreak by following the regulations, including those about gatherings which will be limited to six people both indoors and outside when the new legislation comes into force on Monday 14 September.

People need to take personal responsibility for their actions, in particular during this heath emergency, and this includes adhering to the latest government guidance.

Sussex Police will continue its approach of engaging, encouraging and explaining the current regulations and only taking enforcement action when necessary. “

Only 1 week after schools reopen, a couple of weeks after a house party alarmed residents in the town, (and Crawley Council confirming they were investigating the event), and new rules coming into force, all eyes will now be set to see just how well the town responds to the new measures and whether the rise is just a ‘blip’ or if it is a sign of a returning rise.

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