With West Sussex County Council elections approaching fast (May 4), it may be worth reflecting on some of the key challenges ahead, not least in the funding of services.
While we have seen Government grants to councils progressively reduced, we have seen no corresponding reduction in our income taxes.
Instead, we are seeing tax increases alongside inappropriate housing development and service cutbacks, leaving roads, schools, police, fire, health and social services under serious pressure.
Large new housing developments continue to bring more road congestion and traffic pollution, not to mention the risk of flooding where houses have built on flood prone land. It is time to confront the inequities in the Planning Framework, which have contributed to those problems.
Yes despite cutbacks, council taxes and stealth taxes (e.g., waste management or car parking charges) are due to rise again. Indeed, West Sussex County Council tax rises over two years amount to eight per cent.
So imagine what they will be in the coming years if the Tories remain largely unopposed.
Councils are also shaping up to raise business rates, to help fill the emerging gap in their funding, at a time when businesses are already suffering from an unfair rates system, along with higher wage and utility bills. Councils run the risk of killing off those businesses, which are already on the edge and are struggling from an onerous red tape burden.
If you are not happy with this, then please give us the power to confront it, because it is not inevitable.
There is much scope to reduce council costs by restructuring county and district councils and by raising performance.
That is what we intend to demand, thereby releasing funds to help sustain services.
We want homes, jobs and school places for local people and the quality of service to be better sustained, but we can only do that with more UKIP councillors. We want transparent local government based on your needs and without a party whip.
We are not here for our political careers, but to listen to and to serve, residents.
So please give us the power to win and to help change things for the better, by supporting us with your vote on May 4.
Roger J. Arthur
UKIP candidate for the Lancing division of West Sussex County Council,
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