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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  • A new integrated housing database to replace the council’s outdated systems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

Community

Crawley library in danger of losing opening hours as County Council choose money saving over services

Another public consultation and this time it is about reducing opening hours for the library.

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Crawley library users are being asked to share their thoughts on proposed budget savings which would see a reduction in opening hours at Crawley Library.

The consultation running from 9 October to 13 November 2019 is, according to the council, aimed to help inform the decision due to be taken by West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member, Jacquie Russell, in November. 

The suggested savings include for Crawley to:

Reduce the evening opening hours in the library by one hour (from 7pm to 6pm) from April 2020.

This change, along with the same reduction in hours at three other Sussex libraries along with the ceasing of the mobile library service would apparently result in a total year on year saving of £175,000.

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said:

“Since becoming cabinet member, I have often been asked about what will happen to libraries across the county. As I have said before, we need to look at doing things in a more affordable way, but ultimately my aim is to preserve the core of the library service.

“With the suggested savings being proposed, we hope that the other services we have on offer at libraries across West Sussex will diminish any negative impact to users. 

“However, I still want to hear the thoughts of our library users by way of this consultation, especially those who are specifically affected by the proposed budget savings, as this will help to shape and inform my decision in November.”

But Crawley residents will be all too wary of consultations and how they can be just lip service and completely ignored as recently happened with the consulation over the Post Office move into County Mall.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“When West Sussex County Council Leader over a decade ago, I was pleased to procure and open the new Crawley Library, which ever since has been an important community resource. I would encourage all who care about our library to engage with the Council’s consultation and call for evening opening hours not to be reduced.”

You have until 13 November 2019 to have your say.

To find out more and fill in the consultation, visit haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries/libraryoffer/

CN24 approached Jacquie Russell for a guarantee that if the results of the consultation came back that there was a majority against the reduction in hours that she would keep the library open till 7. A response has not yet been received.

But West Sussex County Council did respond saying:

“This is a live consultation and we encourage residents to have their say before the deadline of 13 November. After the consultation has closed, the responses will be taken into consideration before any decision is made.”

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