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Burntwood councillor warns plan to save £35million will be “harsh” on local communities

A Burntwood councillor has said plans to save £35million will be “harsh” on local communities.

Staffordshire County Council has unveiled the proposals, which include a review of all school crossing patrols, in a bid to make up a shortfall in the money it receives from government.

But Cllr Sue Woodward, leader of the Labour opposition group, said the Conservative group should not beat around the bush when it comes to explaining the reasoning behind some of the decisions.

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

“These cuts are completely due to the Tory Government’s ideological austerity agenda and nothing to do with efficiency or prudence as the county council Tories claim,” she said. “They have been all too willing to act as Government lapdogs and to do their dirty work.

“I’m completely fed up of the spin that claims that these cuts are to produce the good and balanced budget that they claim – balanced, possibly, at the expense of local communities. But good? Absolutely not.

“I appreciate that local authorities of all political colours are finding themselves in this position but the decisions here by the Tories are both harsh yet timid at the same time. They amount to continued salami-slicing in an attempt to mask the cuts with no fundamental rethink or reference to both the funds and time they have wasted over the past nine years.

“It’s anything but transparent.’

Among the measures being explored are the withdrawal of the Your Staffordshire card for young people and reductions in concessionary travel services.

The council is also examining reducing the money it spends on grit bins and grass cutting, as well as end to the Local Community Fund.

Deputy opposition leader Cllr Charlotte Atkins said: “They’ve already made massive cuts of £240million and these new decisions bring extra pain to our electors.

“They call this ‘savings’ but we know they are cuts – real cuts. We are already seeing the impacts of previous cuts, particularly on those struggling with financial pressures.

“These additional cuts will bring many residents to breaking point.”

Cllr Philip Atkins. Pic: M Holland

Cllr Philip Atkins. Pic: M Holland

Cllr Philip Atkins, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said tough decisions needed to be made.

“As a county council we have helped deliver a strong flourishing economy, low unemployment, improving schools, good children’s services and better jobs and training for Staffordshire people – all on one of the lowest council taxes in the country.

“Although we remain absolutely committed to doing all of these, we also have to deal with a most pressing financial challenge of how we can continue to meet the increasing costs of adult social care and children’s care with less money year on year.

“We have already reduced our own running costs by £240million in the last nine years, and the reality is that without urgent additional national funding, we face some extremely difficult decisions in order to meet our legal duty to deliver a balanced budget next year.

“Our proposals mean we will still do more to support Staffordshire people than we are legally obliged to, but we want to be honest and open with people about the reality we may all face if the level of funding we need is not achieved. That is why we are publishing our budget three months early.”

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  1. Rob

    25th September, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    Let councils provide essential mandatory services and if people want more charge them accordingly. Why should council tax payers have to subsidise the travel expenses of others or contribute to a fund for councillors to play with?

  2. 66usual

    25th September, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    “Why should council tax payers have to subsidise the travel expenses of others or contribute to a fund for councillors to play with?”
    Anyone want to explain to Rob? Or shall we just leave him to his sad lonely misanthropy in his Mum’s spare room?

  3. Rob

    25th September, 2018 at 6:09 pm

    I’m in my own privately-owned house as it happens, and both my kids are in theirs.
    We’re not all hooked on the public teat and some of us can enjoy life without it.

  4. Colin Ball

    25th September, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Good on you, Sue, for telling like it is. You’re so right to say that this is all smoke and mirrors from the Tory County Council. As we all know, it’s just as bad at the Tory District Council with terrible decisions like the Friarsgate fiasco being made behind closed doors. Luckily, voters in Lichfield City’s Stowe Ward have a chance to have their say in the By-Election on Thursday this week. Let’s hope that they turn out in their droves to vote Labour for Don Palmer for the District Council and Robyn Fawcett for the City Council.

  5. Sandwellmike

    25th September, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    On a positive note, the Grit Bin situation was only only filled up once in 2017/18 ours was empty by December, so do we fill the Grit Bin ourselves, do I need to put an order in with Collis’s