LETTER: Concerns over county cutbacks

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I am writing to express my concerns about West Sussex County Council’s proposed budget cuts of £141 million over the next four years. This is in addition to the £79 million cuts made over the past three years.

Michael Brown, WSCC Cabinet Member for Finance, asserts that some reductions can be achieved by internal efficiencies and will not impact on residents. I seriously doubt this assertion.

One area currently under consideration for budget cuts is passenger transport, where a reduction of £800,000 is proposed. This means that free bus passes for people with disabilities, their companions and 3 in 1 travel passes for young people will all be at risk. The loss of free bus passes for people with disabilities will severely impact on their ability to lead independent lives.

This group includes young wheelchair users. The 3in1 travel pass is used by families for travel to school and would have

a serious impact on struggling families.

Another area targeted for cuts is the fire service, where proposals are being considered for a further £3 million to be taken from the budget. This is on top of previous cuts which led to the closure of three fire stations, a reduction of 50 frontline personnel and a major reduction in support staff.

These are some of the likely impacts on residents and there will be many more, including cuts to services for the elderly infirm, for disabled people and for vulnerable families. As we know youth services have already been drastically cut at a time when young people face difficulties in finding employment and have to pay huge increases in tuition fees for university.

Cuts of £220 million over a seven year period, at a time of rising costs, inevitably mean a serious reduction in the quality and provision of services. The final decision on the budget for 2014/15 will be taken at a full council meeting on February 14th.

We all need to be concerned about these proposed cuts and make our views known to our local councillors before our valued services disappear permanently.

JACKY LITTLE

Rushams Road, Horsham