An irate county councillor has demanded to know if millions of pounds of proposed cuts were a “fit Christmas present for the people of West Sussex”.
Cllr Sue Mullins (Lab, Gossops Green & Ifield East) was speaking at County Hall, Chichester, on Friday (December 13) during a discussion about plans to cut £61.7m from the budget over the next two years.
The cuts are part of total savings of £141m which the county council intends to find over the next four years.
Before being told to sit down by the council chairman, Cllr Mullins asked: “My question is, do you think this is a fit Christmas present for the people of West Sussex?”
The majority of the initial planned cuts will affect the adult social care and health department which is set to lose £32m.
This figure includes saving £7.9m by working to reduce the length of time patients need to stay in residential care thanks to a new strategy offering care and support at home.
The county council has bid for £16.5m from the Government’s £3.8bn Integration Transformation Fund (ITF) to offset the cuts. The ITF was formed to support closer working between health and social care services. The council will find out next year if its bid has been successful.
Describing the £141m cuts as “eye-watering”, council leader Cllr Louise Goldsmith (Con, Chichester West) told the meeting the council was dealing with problems inherited from 13 years of Labour’s ‘financial mismanagement’.
She added: “People expect us to treat every pound as carefully as it was earned. This is a traditional Conservative council that believes in small government, low taxes, a vibrant economy and the freedom of the individual. There is no room for the nanny state here.”
Cllr Michael Jones (Lab, Southgate & Crawley Central) accused Cllr Goldsmith of “meekly” accepting the massive funding cuts and asked: “Why won’t she stand up for West Sussex? Why is she showing all the compassion of Mrs Guillotine?”
Cllr Goldsmith replied Labour was showing amnesia in denying the current financial situation had anything to do with them.