COMMENT: No easy answers for budget woes

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It’s not every day you see council employees heckling their own chief executive. And he looked extremely uncomfortable.

Tom Crowley, chief executive of Horsham District Council, is responsible for the day-to-day delivery of public services, and it would be a shame if the current impasse damages front-line services.

You only have to look at what other councils are doing in other parts of the country to see what shape public finances are in.

Manchester City Council announced 830 job cuts, a 3.7 per cent rise in income tax, and the closure of libraries and swimming pools last week.

Reluctant councillors would argue that, compared to other alternatives, options being pursued by HDC are relatively mild.

I’m sure some residents might look askance at their council tax bill if it rose, just so council staff could enjoy free parking.

But that isn’t the whole story.

Hardworking HDC employees are unlikely to agree with that assessment if their household budgets take a massive hit.

Figures quoted at the meeting suggested those affected were facing a reduction in remuneration of between four and 23 per cent.

George Cockman (Ind, Steyning) made an excellent point last week, telling members that half-truths and semi-truths could be more dangerous than outright 
lies.

Some proposed changes are sketchy at present, precisely because they are just the starting point for the 90-day consultation period.

When more details emerge, hopefully they can help avoid an ‘implosion’ scenario mentioned by one councillor if negotiations break down.

Joshua Powling

Reporter

joshua.powling@sussexnewspapers.co.uk

01403 751230 | @WSCT_Joshua