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Crawley Council wants to protect frontline services with new budget

Crawley Borough Council’s Cabinet has proposed a balanced budget for 2019/20, protecting frontline services, continuing to invest in the town and improving the council’s efficiency.

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The budget was debated by the Cabinet on Wednesday (6 February). Members unanimously recommended approval of the budget to Full Council on 20 February.

Crawley will suffer a further 89.7 per cent cut in revenue support from the Government over the next year. The reduction in funding since 2016/17 is £1.72m.

Despite this, the council has identified additional income, efficiencies and savings of £1.26m, meaning that the council’s element of Council Tax is set to rise by just 2.49 per cent, the equivalent of only 9p per week for a band D property.

The Cabinet has also recommended investment in:

  • £6m to purchase investment properties. The rental income generated from these will be used to help fund council services
  • More than £9m over three years for repairs to council homes
  • The purchase of a housing development in Broadfield, giving the council a good payback period and providing tenants with a more efficient service
  • A new integrated housing database to replace the council’s outdated systems
  • The ICT transformation programme.

West Sussex County Council is proposing a rise of £65.79 on a band D property (4.99 per cent), which will be debated at its Full Council meeting on 15 February. The precept for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner will rise by £24 on a band D property (14.47 per cent).

If the proposed rises are approved, for every pound paid in Council Tax, West Sussex County Council will receive 77.8p, Sussex Police will receive 10.7p with Crawley Borough Council receiving just 11.5p.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“Local services used to be paid from income tax, meaning those who earned more paid more. Due to government cuts to council and police funding, funding for these services increasingly comes from Council Tax which tends to hit pensioners and poorer residents hardest.

“While Crawley Borough Council is responsible for collecting all your Council Tax, more than 88 per cent of it goes to West Sussex County Council or Sussex Police. We’ve worked hard to ensure that Crawley Borough Council’s part of the bill is kept roughly in line with inflation, meaning that the ‘real terms’ increase this year comes exclusively from West Sussex and the police.”

For more details on Council Tax bandings and ways to pay, visit www.crawley.gov.uk/counciltax

Coronavirus

West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

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