As this is the last Crawley Observer before Christmas, this week I’ve been reflecting on the past twelve months.
On 9th January, Crawley marked the 70th anniversary of its designation in 1947 as a new town. While we have a past to be proud of, we must focus firmly on the future and face up to today’s challenges. These include access to housing and parking, as well as the pressures on schools and the NHS.
I’ve spoken in Parliament to commemorate our anniversary and to pursue the Government on the issues which need addressing in the months, years and decades ahead.
We must never take the freedoms we enjoy in Britain, such as our democratic system and the ability to debate freely, for granted. PC Keith Palmer lost his life in the service of our country in March, when terrorism struck the Palace of Westminster – the home of Parliament. My thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of PC Palmer, and all other victims of such mindless attacks this year.
In June I was given the honour of being re-elected to serve as Member of Parliament for Crawley. While pleased to have received more than half the votes cast, I’m fully aware that many people didn’t put their cross next to my name on the ballot paper. I continue to seek to serve all in our town regardless of political preference.
Last week I welcomed figures showing that unemployment in Crawley has fallen by 59 per cent since 2010 and spoke in the Commons on the importance of ensuring the economic conditions for businesses to thrive, hire workers and pay their taxes. Less than three per cent of people in work are employed on zero-hours contracts – although such flexibility is important for many Crawley workers.
As we mark Advent and look forward to Christmas, the charity Open Doors are making preparations to visit the House of Commons in January, to highlight further the plight of those who do not enjoy basic rights including the freedom of religion. Their important work to support persecuted Christians goes on all year round.
My best wishes to all in Crawley for a happy Christmas.
Henry Smith MP