A SERIES of West Sussex County Council road shows designed to inform the public about its ‘vision for the future’ have been written off as a ‘shambles’ by campaigners against cuts to services.
Chairman of the ‘Don’t Cut Us Out’ campaign Margaret Guest, also a Midhurst town councillor said: “The Arundel event attracted just one member of the public, and at others held at Bognor, Chichester, Crawley, Hassocks and Horsham, public participation could be counted on two hands.
“They were a shambles. Billed as events to give members of the public a chance to meet cabinet members, decision-makers, and councillors, to discuss proposals to cut £141m from over the next four years, they were poorly advertised, lacked any detail on how and where these cuts would fall, and provided no opportunity to discuss or debate the issues.
“That, we were told would happen at the council on Friday, December 13, but the ‘savings plans’ discussed still lacked any detail or transparency.
“Instead, the facts were masked in irrelevant jargon.”
She said professional carers in ‘Don’t Cut Us Out’ warned £141m of cuts would have a ‘devastating’ effect on the many thousands of vulnerable residents already struggling with the effects of the last round of cuts which amounted to £31m.
“They will also impact on a far wider group of residents – children and families, young people as well as the disabled and elderly.
“Family centres, school services and youth provision face cuts of £5m.
“Day centre provision, respite services and personal care and support services and telecare subsidies are to be cut by a £32m.
Public health services face a £3m cut. Cuts in bus subsidies will affect students and young working people.”
She said an alternative would be to raise council tax by two per cent – the equivilent of 45p increase per week on an average Band D property.
“This would raise an extra £29m over four years.”
“This administration is acting disgracefully” said Mrs Guest. “The council has no mandate for its ‘Vision’. It was not in their election statements in May last year.
“There has been no formal public consultation, and there is none of the promised openness, transparency and engagement promised during the elections.”
The campaign is calling on residents to voice their views either through the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/moneymattersHYS or writing to the leader of the council, their MP and councillors before the next full meeting on February 14.