DISTRICT councillors have thrown party politics aside and united under a single banner in opposition to Arun’s decision to axe support to town and parish councils.
Last month, Arun cabinet members took sweeping action to slash support for local councils in an effort to save the authority money.
By 2015/16, Littlehampton Town Council is set to lose all its £147,000, while neighbouring Rustington Parish Council will have its £48,000 backing axed.
Arundel Town Council will lose around £12,000, while £13,000 will be cut from East Preston Parish Council and £4,800 from Yapton Parish Council.
But this week, Arun’s decision has been formally challenged by Lib-Dem councillor Dr James Walsh.
He has been backed by a cross-party group of councillors to call in the decision, to be scrutinised by a committee on October 26 at the Civic Centre, in Maltravers Road, Littlehampton.
Cllr Dr Walsh said: “The reasons for the call-in are quite simple.
“In effect, Arun is stealing money due to parish and town councils to stuff into its already massive reserves of £32m.
“No consultation took place with any of the affected councils or, indeed, any local councillors outside Arun’s cabinet.
“The money is given by central government to district councils to pass on to parishes and towns to help offset the effect of other reductions in funding.”
The local government minister had stated the money should be passed on, said Beach Ward representative Dr Walsh, but was being ignored by Arun.
“The effect will be to either force up parish and town council taxes and/or force them to cut the services they provide – such as grass-cutting, toilets, free car parking and bus shelters,” he said.
“It is also unacceptable this decision was made by seven cabinet members and not by the full council of Arun.”
Nigel Lynn, Arun’s chief executive, said the decision to cut the cash was ‘regrettable’ but one that had to be made, taking into account the current economic climate and the impact of the Government’s austerity programme.
In a statement after the cabinet meeting, Mr Lynn said: “This is regrettable, but due to cuts from central government we were left with no choice. We have been more generous than many neighbouring councils, which have already slashed their funding to partner councils.”
He added the council could not ‘pretend everything is rosy’ and that these decisions would, ultimately, put Arun in a stronger position, financially.