LETTER: £25m worth of savings ignored

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The renewed interest in the (unitary) integration of council services should not be surprising, with further Government funding cuts still to come. What is puzzling is that on Friday the WSCC leader dismissed a proposed saving of around £25m pa, preferring service cuts instead.

With over 200 district councils across the country, the potential unitary savings are substantial, as demonstrated in Wiltshire. In that county the leader dispensed with the position of chief executive, which WSCC has apparently now copied.

That raises the question of who might realistically be prepared to take on the leader’s responsibility in future, at a salary of 25 per cent that of the redundant CE. That looks like a high risk gamble, particularly with all of the change that has still to come.

Perhaps the WSCC leader could let us in on her strategy indicating how that risk will be managed, why she described the proposal to save £25m pa as a ‘wanton distraction’ and why service cuts have been chosen instead.

On other matters, Professor Ashworth holds Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) responsible for permitting development on flood plains, whereas LPAs rely on the Environmental Authority (EA) to determine the flood risk.

Indeed, the planning inspector will ask at appeal, if the EA has raised any objection to a planning application. If the answer is no, then the LPA that has refused the application based on perceived flood risk, would most likely have to pay costs and the development would be permitted.

It is therefore interesting to compare risk data from insurers with those of the EA. For example the EA’s website for sites around one local location indicates a low risk, whereas local residents advise that they cannot get insurance against flooding.

So, we might well ask i) why the EA’s data is inconsistent with that of insurers, ii) why residents affected by run-off don’t claim compensation from the EA and iii) why people buy houses where flooding insurance is not available and then, in some cases, expect public money to be used to counter the flood risk?

Now that the PM has said that money is no object in that context, those buyers can perhaps relax!

ROGER ARTHUR

(UKIP) Horsham district councillor for Chanctonbury ward and prospective parliamentary candidate for Horsham