No real scrutiny of county council budget due to ‘cynical sabotage’

Columnists
Columnists

Last Friday was the Budget Full Council meeting at West Sussex County Council. With the last Labour government having totally wrecked the public finances, the need for savings continues and the County Council has to save £39m this year in order to protect and sustain key frontline services for the future.

It was disappointing that the Labour members from Crawley sought to cynically sabotage the County Council’s budget, by submitting four last-minute amendments that would have significantly altered the budget.

This allowed for no real scrutiny of the proposals but that didn’t matter to Labour as it was all about political grandstanding before the general election and cruelly playing on people’s fears over the modernisation of the Fire Service.

The County Council’s budget sees more than £500 million spent on key services while staying on track to make the efficiency savings needed. Incredibly, all Labour County Councillors which includes the Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Crawley, all voted against the entire County Council budget. This meant that Labour voted against the fifth successive Council Tax freeze, against all the services paid out of the County Council’s budget, as well as against £140 million of infrastructure investment.

Among the measures provided in the County Council’s revenue budget that Labour shamefully voted against are:

•An additional £5m to alleviate pressure on the Council’s adult services’ budget arising from the increasing number of our older residents;

•£900,000 in support of the Local Welfare Provision Fund which helps families and individuals in genuine crisis;

•£5m further investment in the County Council’s very successful Think Family programme, which helps get out of work parents back to work and helps those families who need a little bit more support;

•£1.4m to address rising demand within the Child Disability budget.

The capital investment programme that Labour also voted against contains:

•A further £15m for the Better Roads programme to improve many more of our local roads;

•Significant investment in infrastructure improvements, including £20m investment in economic development, boosting the economy and employment;

•£6.4m investment in high speed broadband capability, giving a further boost to our local economy.