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Peter Lamb: Finding the funds to save West Sussex’s homeless

In his article this week, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb addresses the proposed cuts to housing support services, and suggests where West Sussex County Council could find the funds to save them.

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Louise Goldsmith, the Leader of West Sussex County Council, tells us that cuts to Open House and other housing support services are necessary because they don’t have the money to fund them any longer.

Open House receives a grant of £262,075 and I was able to highlight in minutes where the money to save every hostel in West Sussex, about £1m, could come from.

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However, the full cut being proposed is £6.3m, so let’s look if there’s anywhere we can find the remaining £5.3m. For instance, last year West Sussex spent £5,933,666.54 on taxis, with a further £165,299.47 on travel expenses. £5,476,737.16 went to consultants and £831,450.74 on advertising and publicity, well they did increase their Policy and Communications budget by £300,000 last year, so that’s not really a surprise. They also spent £742,319 on books and newspapers, to be clear that figure excludes schools and libraries.

With all the empty West Sussex sites in Crawley alone, it’s not a surprise they spent £212,972.42 on vacant properties and a further £594,443.45 on office removals. Recruitment saw £537,219.64 being spent, alongside a peculiar £143,201.18 for ‘Music and Video’, with a further £198,656.84 on postage and £101,660.85 on stationery.

Now, no doubt there are good reasons for much of this expenditure, but that’s £15m which seems more questionably spent than the £6.3m necessary to support the homeless, vulnerable elderly and victims of domestic violence. I’d suggest Nathan Elvery, who was appointed Chief Executive two years ago at an ongoing cost of £220,166, starts by looking there. That’s before asking himself whether he really needs so many layers of senior management.

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When I became Leader at Crawley I removed the director-tier, so now heads of services report directly the Chief Executive. At West Sussex County Council they not only still have directors, but executive directors. That seems like the real expense West Sussex residents can no longer afford.

Francis Guidera

Councillor Francis Guidera: Supporting Thomas Bennett

Councillor for Tilgate Francis Guidera, on his visit to Thomas Bennett Community College with fellow Conservatives Duncan Crow and Crawley MP Henry Smith.

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Crawley MP Henry Smith and Conservative Councillors Duncan Crow & Francis Guidera with Thomas Bennett students, Chelsea players/trainers and new Head, Mr Bianchi.

On Friday 21st of September, Henry Smith MP, Cllr Duncan Crow and I spent 3 hours with students and the new headteacher of Thomas Bennett school.

We had a tour of the school to see for ourselves how classes were being conducted, followed by a one hour lunch meeting with about 10 students from all years up to 6th form where we discussed a broad range of ideas ranging from how students support each other both as fellow students and as young people to how we can get this positive message out to you, the people of Crawley that it’s a great school with amazing facilities and brilliant teaching and leadership teams. The students were very impressive!

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We then attended the opening of the new 3G football pitch with some of the Chelsea players and trainers, and students and finally had a meeting with the new head, Mr Bianchi to discuss ways in which we can help.

Thomas Bennett is a great school and I would be quite happy for my daughter to go there if she wasn’t already in another great Crawley school, and local parents really should attend the open evening because spaces are limited!

I will be supporting the school and the new head in every way I can, as will Duncan and Henry.

And finally, thank you for the invite Mr Bianchi. A wonderful afternoon!

Cllr Francis Guidera
Borough Councillor for Tilgate

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