Last year, following a Labour motion, Crawley Borough Council adopted the Living Wage. At the time the Conservatives made a lot of noise about it being the right thing to do, to quote one Tory councillor: “I’d encourage any local employers not already paying their staff the Living Wage to join the scheme. It makes business sense and provides wider economic and social benefits too.”
Which makes it all the more surprising that when Labour councillors proposed a Living Wage motion at West Sussex County Council every Conservative Crawley councillor in the chamber, including the one quoted above, voted no.
County Council meetings are recorded and I’d encourage anyone who wants to see the real face of the Conservative Party, the one which David Cameron tries to keep hidden, to watch online and judge for themselves.
The Living Wage is important not only because a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay but because as a community the only way we can really cut the benefits bill and ensure lasting prosperity is to ensure people can earn enough to live on.
At a time when there are record levels of people in work yet relying upon benefits to make ends meet, the Tories are happy to both trap people in low paid employment and yet condemn them for relying upon state support.
Everyone deserves a Living Wage and if elected Labour will work to promote the Living Wage across Crawley, not simply in the public sector, and attract new opportunities to the town.
Jobs are essential but not enough; we need to ensure local residents can afford a roof over their head and yet do so without using up all the town’s green space. We must also work to build a stronger community by involving residents more in the decisions the council takes and reversing the decline of our neighbourhoods and the Town Centre.
In contrast to Conservative chaos at the Town Hall, a Labour administration would focus on three priorities: jobs, homes and community. These priorities form the basis of the local manifesto Labour will launch next month, they’re simple but not easy and will ensure that residents once again have a council which is on their side.
Cllr Peter Lamb, Northgate, Labour Group Leader