From: Richard Thomas, Prospective Lib Dem candidate, Wickham Avenue, Bexhill
Here, in Bexhill, we suffer from Tories at every level of government.
According to the Audit Office, local authorities have seen their government grant reduced by 49 per cent since 2010.
Tories have no respect for local democracy – they are starving it to death. Our Tory councillors campaign for a Conservative government which enforces massive cuts on our councils, Rother and East Sussex. East Sussex Council is to have its budget cut by an impossible amount, a fact which the Tories don’t and can’t dispute.
So the council has explored the idea of what it has called a ‘core offer’. This is a picture of what East Sussex services would look like if most were cut back to a minimum to meet legal requirements.
Doing this is estimated to save £12 million a year.
There are some very legitimate concerns about this plan but Conservative councillors keep very quiet about them. If translated into a budget, as will happen, there will be cuts. These may affect support for schools, social care and special needs education, and yet when opposition councillors raise these issues, they get accused of ‘whingeing’.
There are predictions that some of these savings will prove expensive; cuts to preventative services will leave problems festering, which may cost more in the long run.
Astoundingly, even these measures will leave the council facing a deficit, with no guarantee that the gap will be closed.
So, what should East Sussex do? Its leaders, to be fair, are putting the council’s case to the government. But what they should also be doing is shouting from the rooftops that East Sussex is facing an extraordinary crisis. They should be doing far more to encourage public awareness of how dire things are. Liberal Democrats will support the careful monitoring of services to ensure that the often vulnerable people who depend on those services are not forgotten.
We will also remember the providers of services who are placed under additional stress. We will take up your casework. And we will work with everyone who believes that all levels of local government require fair funding.
By electing Liberal Democrats onto your councils, you will send a clear message to the Conservative government. You can’t say that austerity is over while turning potholes into valleys and hitting the vulnerable.