Meeting the challenges faced by New Towns

It was appropriate to think of our town’s motto of ‘I Grow and I Rejoice’ at the recent launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for New Towns, of which I’m pleased to be a founder member and a Vice Chair.

The purpose of the cross-party Group is to celebrate the contribution made by the UK’s New Towns and to highlight the opportunities and challenges they face today.

One of the main objectives of the Group is to make the case for investment and the regeneration and renewal of New Town infrastructure, and to help positively shape policy.

Other issues the Group will focus on over the next twelve months are the provision of high-quality homes, improving the health and wellbeing of New Town residents, and unlocking skills, innovation and enterprise.

Last week, the Housing Secretary announced more than £6.4 million of funding for housing projects at Telford Place in the town centre and in Forge Wood. This is to deliver infrastructure and up to 570 homes by 2022, and 720 homes in total.

I’ve also called for the retention of business rates locally. By being given the power to keep more of the money generated in a particular area, councils will have further resources to invest in local government services.

In the House of Commons recently I spoke about how Crawley would benefit from a successful West Sussex bid to retain business rates and I look forward to further pursuing this case.

Recently I welcomed the Home Secretary and Minister for Women & Equalities, Amber Rudd, to Crawley to meet with some of the over 400 UK Border Force officers located at Gatwick Airport who help keep our country safe.

Of course, Gatwick Airport is a huge local employer and while unemployment in Crawley has fallen by 59 per cent since 2010, and now stands at 1.5 per cent, we must continue to support firms looking to take on staff, contribute to the economy, and help fund our public services.

Henry Smith MP