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Councils across West Sussex meet to discuss budget cuts, without Crawley Council

Further clashes between West Sussex County Council & Crawley Borough Council.

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Yesterday (12 September), West Sussex County Council released a statement saying ‘Conservative council leaders’ from across the county held a meeting to discuss the budget cuts impacting West Sussex.

In the meeting earlier this week, the Leaders of West Sussex County Council, Adur and Worthing Councils, Arun District Council, Chichester District Council, Horsham District Council, Mid Sussex District Council agreed how they could work together to try to ‘mitigate the potential impacts of the cuts on vulnerable groups.’

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Crawley Borough Council however, did not attend the meeting.

The participating councils released this joint statement:

“All the Conservative council leaders from across West Sussex met earlier this week to discuss the budget situation faced by West Sussex County Council due to lack of central government funding.

“West Sussex County Council explained the financial challenges of reduced government funding and the increased demands for the statutory services of Children’s and Adult Social Care.

“West Sussex County Council has already saved £145m over the last 8 years but now faces a funding gap of £146m over the next 4 years.

“The leaders agreed how they could work together to try to mitigate the potential impacts of the cuts on vulnerable groups.

“It was acknowledged that in the next four year period there is insufficient funding and it was agreed to write collectively to the Government highlighting the difficult decisions that will need to be taken if social care services are not adequately funded.

“They expressed regret that Crawley Borough Council would not participate in this joint work for local communities.”

Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb, responded to the statement. He also put in a formal complaint to West Sussex County Council, asking for a public apology. He claims that West Sussex’s comment stating Crawley Borough Council ‘would not participate in this joint work’ is not true.

Peter Lamb said:

“Crawley is standing with the almost 10,000 West Sussex residents who have demanded that Louise Goldsmith and Nathan Elvery drop the proposed cuts to housing services for vulnerable adults. These increasingly desperate statements show the community has the council’s leadership on the back foot and we will not be bullied into backing down.”

In his complaint, Mr Lamb reports a breach of ‘the Code of Practice on Local Authority Publicity’ and ‘Part II of the Local Government Act (1986)’. He says:

“We expect WSCC to investigate this complaint thoroughly, identify which officers or members have been involved in putting together the wording, and to take appropriate disciplinary action in addition to making a full public apology.”

West Sussex County Council’s has since issued an amended statement. The first sentence now reads: “All the council leaders from across West Sussex (with the exception of Crawley Borough Council) met earlier this week to discuss the budget situation faced by West Sussex County Council due to lack of central government funding.”

It was last week that the Leader of Crawley Borough Council, wrote a strongly worded letter to West Sussex County Council, informing them that unless they changed their plans for cuts, Crawley Council would make no further effort to work with the County Council on future projects.

Mr Lamb said:

“Until such time as West Sussex Changes its course we will be withdrawing from West Sussex Leader Board activities and while honouring current agreements, we will be taking no further steps towards joint working the county.

“We simply cannot work with people who believe such actions to be moral.”

Over 8,200 people have signed an online petition which ‘demands that West Sussex County Council rejects the proposed cuts to Housing Related Support’. The cuts would see services like Crawley Open House have their funding completely cut: for the Crawley based hostel, this is a contract worth around £250,000.

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Young woman raped in Pound Hill, police seek witnesses

Police in Crawley are investigating the rape of a 22-year-old woman on a local path in Pound Hill.

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At about 10pm on Thursday 13 June, the woman was walking along the footpath which runs between Somerville Road and Worth Park Gardens when she was attacked by a man who raped her before making off.

He is described as white, in his forties, about 5’10”, with short dark hair including grey streaks, and a beard. He was wearing dark jeans, black shoes (not trainers) and a blue t-shirt with a logo of some kind.

Detective Inspector Karrie Bohanna of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said;

“We have been working with the woman, with specially trained officers, to understand the full circumstances and to ensure she has further expert support and advice.

“Our investigation is ongoing and we have been making enquiries in the area. If you were in the Pound Hill, Worth Park Gardens area at around that time on Thursday 13 June, and saw anything suspicious, please get in touch with us online by calling 101, quoting serial 810 of 16/06.

“We would particularly like to identify and contact three people who may be able to help us. Following the attack the victim went to the nearby pub, Tavern on the Green, and sought directions. She spoke with two men there, one of whom escorted here to her address.

“The third person is a woman walking nearby with a black dog about 15 minutes before the attack. The woman is described as white, about 5’7” and with long dark hair, wearing a dark jacket.

“This appears to be an isolated incident for the area and not part of any pattern. Please let us know if you can help.”

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