A ‘HARD battle’ lies ahead as councillors discussed wide-ranging cuts across West Sussex at full council today (December 13).
Cutbacks of £141m need to be made in the next four years by the county, following government cuts.
Council leader Louise Goldsmith said it was ‘hard to believe’ that only three years ago she stood before the council and said they had to make £79m of cuts.
She said they had achieved this and the council was now ‘leaner and more responsive to the needs of our residents’.
“Today, I stand before this council having just come to the end of that savings programme and the council is leaner and more responsible and through that we’ve not increased our council tax. But we can’t stop there.”
She said the council stood in an ‘extremely strong financial position’.
“We did it three years ago and we will do it again and to quote a certain lady: ‘There’s no alternative’.”
She added the cuts were a necessity, because of ‘13 years of Labour’s disastrous management’.
“£141m over four years is going to be a hard battle but as you can see from these savings, we’re well on our way.”
The council has highlighted a proposed £61.7m of savings initially for the next two years.
More than half of this is to come from the adult health and social care budget.
Cllr James Walsh said there was ‘huge concern’ about the scale of cuts proposed.
He also said to say dismiss some of the savings as having no frontline impact was wrong.
“To dismiss those and say there’s been no cut in frontline service is complete nonsense and completely out of touch with the reality of what people are facing in West Sussex.”.
Labour councillor Michael Jones described the savings as ‘cut throat’ and criticised Cllr Goldsmith.
“Why won’t she stand up for West Sussex and why’s she showing all the fairness and compassion of Madame Guillotine,” he said – a comment that was widely condemned by the chamber and which he withdrew – saying he had not meant to cause offence.
Cllr Goldsmith said his comments reflected ‘the usual amnesia that the Labour Party has’, again citing the need to make the cuts following bad management by Labour.