Crawley Borough Council leader looks back at an 'incredibly tough year'

Crawley council leader Peter Lamb has looked back on an ‘incredibly tough year’ and said they have being working on getting the town back to work since last April.

Councillor Peter Lamb
Councillor Peter Lamb

Crawley has been hit particularly hard by Covid, with unemployment trebling to more than 8 per cent, 7,000 plus jobs lost at Gatwick, and some 25,800 residents – 41 per cent of the workforce – placed on furlough.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

It’s the first time in decades that the town has had an unemployment problem.

And even though lockdown measures are due to be easing next week, cllr Lamb knows we are not out of it yet.

He said: “We’ve been through a lot, but the reality is we’re not out of this yet.

“Even once the pandemic is over, we will still have to deal with the unemployment crisis it leaves in its wake and the risk that it will turn into a homelessness crisis.

“We’ve been working on a plan to get Crawley back to work since last April and to continue to make housing more affordable. I’m confident that we will recover, but it would certainly be a lot quicker and less painful for local families if we received some help from the Government.”

The council had to put most of their policy programme on hold when the pandemic struck.

Cllr Lamb said: “It’s been incredibly challenging.

“From the start the council played a leading role in efforts in place to limit the spread of COVID on the ground and to help people survive the crisis, including creating a new service from scratch to ensure high-risk households had access to food and medicine and getting all the town’s homeless off of the streets in a matter of days.

“As soon as those first few weeks were over we were faced with the reality COVID-19 would hit the town’s economy harder than anywhere else and the financial impact on the council would force the first cuts in my time as Leader.

“If this wasn’t hard enough, the decision of two councillors to throw the council into No-Overall Control in the midst of the crisis for personal reasons could have been incredibly damaging for the town. Fortunately, the rest of the council put politics aside to ensure Crawley made it through.”