It wasn’t entirely unexpected, but the way it happened and the actuality are quite disappointing. The Tories won seats in Southgate and Ifield, and got lucky with the drawing of lots for Broadfield North (just as they did in Furnace Green and Maidenbower not so long ago).
So, from a Labour majority of 1 we go to a Tory majority of 1. Bob Lanzer will be the new leader. Duncan Crow will be the deputy. I wonder who else will be running departments. Will Brenda Burgess be tasked with trying to convince tenants to opt for Stock Transfer? Who will have to handle the travellers (and what will they actually DO, now that they have ruled out the only sensible option)? What cuts will they make:
Voluntary sector – currently CBC donates about £600,000 to local voluntary groups. None of them is a loony left ‘muslim lesbian single mothers coffee morning’ group. They include the Citizens Advice Bureau, the Crawley CVS. Any cuts here will not exactly chime with the national Tory line about using voluntary and charitable bodies to do good in the community
Community Wardens – Labour was going to increase the number of them. If the Tories don’t or even more cut them, will that make our streets safer?
Raid the bank – Crawley is one of the few councils in the country which has kept itself debt free. In fact, there’s some money in the bank. The easy option would be to spend that money to keep council tax down. However, the interest on it is also used to keep council tax down. So if you dip into those reserves and don’t decrease revenue demands, all that will happen is that the savings will disappear. I’m all for using that capital to invest to make savings. But a Council Tax giveaway – while popular – will erode the financial position long term.
One thing I do know – we need a decent, united opposition on the Council. Part of the problem with the group appears to me that they didn’t notice that a majority of 16 had gone down to a majority of 1. You can afford posture politics sometimes, but not with a single vote at play.