25th January 2012 – Crawley Observer
Report by Laura Chase
MP Henry Smith has blasted Crawley Labour Group’s decision to “call in” a decision to accept a £2.4 million lottery grant to renovate Worth Park, calling it “pathetic” and saying “should be ashamed”.
His remarks, on a social networking site, follow a Crawley Borough Council Cabinet meeting where members agreed a recommendation to accept the offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) Parks for People fund.
But Labour stalled the process by “calling in” the decision and the bid will now be debated by the full council on February 29.
This is after the deadline set by the HLF on February 3 and Crawley Borough Council has asked to extend it.
Mr Smith wrote on his Facebook wall on Monday (January 16): “It’s pathetic that Crawley Labour councillors have put £2.42m Heritage Lottery funding to rejuvenate Work Park Gardens at risk by ‘calling in’ the decision, a scrutiny process which is often misused by them.
“They should be ashamed, it’s always the Party before Borough with Labour” The post has since received several likes’ and comments from other users.
Mr Smith told the Crawley Observer he was very disappointed in Labour’s decision.
He said: “I think it’s pathetic. The only reason I can think they have done it is they are opposing everything we do. “I don’t see why anyone should oppose for the sake of opposing.”
He confirmed Tilgate Park would not be being privatised and it would still remain open to the public. He also accused Labour of scaremongering.
Mr Smith added: “If we can get £2.4 million in from outside Crawley to improve this town and to improve these facilities it has to be a good thing.
“It’s an important thing Crawley Borough Council is doing. “Why wouldn’t we want to attract investment to improve the town?” In response to Mr Smiths’ comment Labour’s Cllr Peter Lamb said: “Lottery funding only covers part of the cost, the rest has to be found from other bits of the budget, such as Tilgate Park.
“Considering the hundreds of millions of pounds in debt Mr Smith accrued as leader of West Sussex, his attempt to bring party politics into council budgeting is not welcome? During the four years it has taken to get to the stage of being offered a full grant, the HLF has already given the council £237,000 to progress the scheme and get to the final submission stage.
The council has contributed £70,000, while the Friends of Worth Park has also contributed £5,000 worth of volunteer time in assisting with surveys and consultation.