West Sussex County Council is considering a further £28million of budget cuts, the leader of the opposition has warned.
Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) said early discussions were being held in private, with proposals including the closure of some of the county’s smaller libraries and one of the tips, reduced spending on road repairs and charging people to dump household DIY waste at the tips.
While not confirming the exact figure or any details, a spokesman for the council confirmed that ‘significant savings’ were being considered.
Dr Walsh said the cuts were being planned for the 2020/21 budget and also included more reductions to bus subsidies and less money for homeless services and care providers.
He added: “These are all essential services for some people in our diverse communities, and some are lifelines used by the poorest in our society.”
Declaring that the Liberal Democrats would ‘oppose these cuts tooth and nail’, he said he would press for a council tax increase to keep essential services going.
Dr Walsh added: “It is time for austerity to cease in practice, and not just Prime Ministerial words. It is time for our residents to stand up, and say loudly that ‘we’ve had enough; it’s time to change’.
When asked about the proposed cuts, a council spokesman said: “West Sussex County Council, like many local authorities across the country, continues to face unprecedented financial pressures mainly due to the increasing demand on social care services, a reduction in government funding and uncertainty around future funding.
“We have made over £239 million of savings since 2010, with our funding cut £145 million by Government, but still have to save £75.5m million over the next four years.
“Regrettably, we need to consider significant savings.
“The council is in the very early stages of planning next year’s budget in very uncertain financial times, so we need to consider as many options as possible.
“Draft options, shared with members, will be discussed by cabinet at a public cabinet meeting on Thursday July 11 which will be followed by the development of business cases and public consultation as required, prior to further consideration.”
The cabinet meeting will be held at County Hall, Chichester, at 10.30am.