There was a bit of a shock in the West Sussex county council’s new forward plan when it was published this week. The wording is all quite bland and might not sound like much, but the implications are that several services in the county will not be able to afford to continue, including the Crawley Open House service.
I guess we should not be surprised that only a week or so after a Tory minister makes announcements about Tackling Rough Sleeping, our Tory council announces the withdrawal of funding for projects that are actually tackling rough sleeping, or that it is done in such a sneaky way.
Sneaky because you have to read between the forward plan item makes no mention of the services that are affected. Also sneaky because it says that representations should be made by the beginning of the month in which the decision is due to be made. Look at the dates. The decision is due to be made in September. The item was published on August 29th, giving a whole two days to make representations!
I think that the council may not be aware of just how popular COH is in Crawley. It has been the mayor’s charity for both Labour and Tory mayors in the past and is one of the most popular and well-known charities in the town. When Jayne and I had our blessing we didn’t want presents for ourselves but asked guests to bring tinned food to donate to COH if they really wanted to bring a gift. My employers have a Christmas collection of food, and lots of other local companies have connections. I think that the council may be surprised by just how much oppostition there will be to this proposal.
There is a petition about this, and in the 4 days since the forward plan was published, it has already got 4,434 signatures. The petition address is https://www.change.org/p/louise-goldsmith-save-crawley-open-house so why not take a few minutes to sign it and show that people in Crawley really do value the service that Crawley Open House provides.
Despite me having a pop at the County Hall Tories, this really is a bipartisan issue here, as the charity is popular with politicians of all parties, with local businesses, and local people generally. It is not Labour versus Tory but Crawley and other district councils against the remote county council, who may have bitten off more than they can chew with this one. Lets hope that it turns out to be one cut too far.