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Trouble within Labour as letter reveals one third of parties councillors want a new Crawley leader

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If the last two days were anything to go by with political hysteria within Crawley Council then it looks set to continue for a while yet.

Following a response to the news of two Labour Councillors jumping ship from the party to go independent, there has been a outpouring of responses from both parties over what is going to happen at the council.

Now, the two councillors have released another letter in reponse to all the attention over their decisions.

But the letter has also revealed discord within the local Labour party themselves as revelations that a recent leadership vote has a whole third wanting a new leader leaving only 12 Labour councillors in favour of the current one, Peter Lamb.

The full letter reads:

Joint statement of Karen Sudan and Rory Fiveash in response to Council Leader’s ‘No confidence challenge’.

“We feel that we have to answer the public comments/accusations made by council leader, Peter Lamb, yesterday when discussing our resignations and how that affects the council, so we have agreed this joint statement:

Peter mentions Labour’s election manifesto. This is a document that we remain one hundred percent committed to. Party members – who are unpaid volunteers – put a huge amount of work into Labour’s 2019 manifesto. That was the Party’s commitment to Crawley. It was the most member-led manifesto that we have ever had, and the Party dedicated it to Karen’s father, Maurice Clift, who died last year. He was a Party member for more than 70 years. To suggest that we might readily disregard it – especially as everyone put so much work into it- is an insulting and hurtful suggestion.

Peter is right. The promises in that manifesto were accepted by Crawley people. We won marginal seats, but lost others because of our failure to listen to local people. It is Peter’s failure to listen that has brought us to where we are now. He does not listen to residents or the members who represent them – even senior Labour members feel marginalised by Peter’s style of leadership. Peter only listens when it is convenient to him: a group of contracted council workers only managed to get their occupational sick pay arrangements levelled up to match that of their co-workers when it suited Peter to agree to it. This should have been included in the original contact, but it wasn’t. In spite of representations from their Union, Peter only agreed to this – at a cost of around £100,000 to the council – when the General Election was on the cards and he needed the union’s backing for his campaign.

Months after the local elections, Peter put his vision for the town to the people in a general election campaign led and managed by him. Crawley people rejected that vision. With Peter as our candidate Labour returned its worst defeat in the history of Crawley’s parliamentary seat.

Had there been elections this May, Labour’s prediction – probably calculated by Peter himself – was that we were on track to lose control.

Many Party members, including Labour councillors, have tried to argue for changes that we believe are necessary. Our voices have been ignored and with them the voices of those we represent. Karen was persuaded that the only way to make things more democratic and inclusive was to run for the leadership of the group herself. One third of the Group voted for the different approach that she offered. That is a significant number. It means that Peter only has the full confidence of 12 councillors.

Peter is playing a dangerous game with control of the council. His move is not clever, and we doubt that the Labour Group have been consulted about it.  Put simply, Peter Lamb would prefer to stay as Leader of the Labour Group – whether in control or opposition. That is why he has invited the opposition to put a vote of no confidence.

The next council meeting is the Annual Meeting, less than a fortnight away on July the 15th. Election of the Leader is on the agenda already. Peter has the option to step aside and offer his skills and expertise from the back benches. To ensure stability and consistency at this difficult time, he could assist a new leader – one who commands the confidence of enough councillors to retain control. Or he can remain Group leader and let the Opposition form an administration. The people of Crawley will be watching carefully to see what he decides. They will make their own judgement about it.

We know that there are others in the Labour Group who are more than capable of leading the Council and the Labour Group must at least have a say in what happens next. Will they put Peter Lamb’s interests above those of the people they represent and sacrifice a Labour council for the sake of someone the people rejected in December? Or will they do the right thing for the Party and the Town?”

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Crawley’s buses to be fitted with anti-virus filters

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Anti-virus air filters are being fitted to every bus on the Brighton & Hove and Metrobus fleet, as an added measure to further reduce the risk of Covid transmission.  

The new filters have an anti-virus coating and remove 99.99%* of viruses and bacteria, as air flows into both decks and the driver’s cab. Air is already regularly refreshed on buses with doors opening at stops and windows open and this is an extra safety precaution.  

Engineers have fitted the new air filters on every bus and converted the whole fleet of 400 buses within just one month. These filters will continue to be used as standard within the regular replacement programme.   

Brighton & Hove and Metrobus Managing Director Martin Harris said: “The new filters are a welcome addition to the safety measures we already have lined up on buses to defeat the virus, alongside high cleaning standards, face coverings, social distancing, keeping windows open and paying by contactless.  

“Our engineers have been working round the clock to fit these filters so that our passengers can feel even more confident that they are travelling in a clean and safe bus. A good flow of fresh air is increasingly being recognised as one of the most important protections against Covid alongside ‘Hands, Face and Space’ and these filters are an important step.”   The PEPA-F HVAC filters were developed by Filtration Control and train builder Bombardier and capture particles in the air that might contain pathogens and virus such as Covid-19. 

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