It has been the subject of heated debate both in and out of council meetings across Sussex.
Only two months ago political leaders from all sides of the spectrum expressed concerns over the proposed cuts by West Sussex County Council.
Now those cuts have been realised and the heated debate from within the council chambers is overflowing onto the streets.
Members of the West Sussex Council Cabinet have approved a number of measures to deliver what they call a ‘balanced budget’ for 2019/2020.
“Like many local authorities across the country, the council faces unprecedented financial pressures. In the last eight years it has saved almost £200m and in the same period, government funding has been cut by £145m.
The council still faces a huge financial challenge going forward. The county has an aging population and people are living longer with more complex health conditions. At the same time, the complexity and vulnerability of the children the council supports continues to increase. As a result, the authority faces an increasing demand for children’s and adults’ social care services and special educational needs support – services which the county council alone is responsible for providing.”
Whilst there are cuts across many areas it is the housing related support that has attracted the most attention.
West Sussex says:
“The council continues to invest £4.6m in 2019/20 in housing related support, making savings of £1.7m, with a proposed further reduction of £2.3m in 2020/21.”
It was the fear that many organisations, residents and councillors have been fighting against but now it seems that those fears have been realised.
The news came out on the same day that students from a Crawley school did a sleep-out overnight to raise money for the homeless charity Open House.
But with news of the cuts comes the backlash from political heavyweights such as Crawley’s own leader of the council Peter Lamb who tweeted:
Outraged isn't the half of it. They are knowingly and willingly killing people. We presented alternatives, every party asked for more time, the only, ONLY conclusion is that this is the outcome they wanted all along.
— Peter Lamb (@CllrPetesTweets) December 18, 2018
But not all political leaders responded in the same way.
Crawley MP Henry Smith tweeted that Crawley Borough Council were granted money to tackle homelessness and they should address this themselves rather than complain:
Whilst it is clear there will be fallout whenever there are budget cuts it seems that the debate will rage on about the issue but what is not clear is how councils across Sussex including Crawley will respond formally.
A lot of people will be watching anxiously.
Crawley’s Thomas Bennett Students Celebrate Christmas with a Winter Concert
Students at Thomas Bennett Community College celebrated Christmas with an amazing Winter Concert held last night.
More than 25 students performed and showcased an amazing array of talent. Performances included some Christmas classics as well a vast array of music and songs from all genres.
The school hall was packed to the rafters with family, friends and staff all of whom came to watch. Decorated beautifully for Christmas the atmosphere in the school was fantastic. The highlight of course was the students, whose talent was just incredible. Students played a range of instruments including keyboard, guitar and drums. There was also plenty of vocal performances from students whose outstanding talent was just phenomenal.
Lots of hard work and commitment went into making the evening such a success. Students have been practising tirelessly in the weeks leading up to the event to ensure that they were able to perform with confidence. The schools Sixth form students also played in a big part and helped organise the event and made sure it run smoothly.
However, the concert wouldn’t have been such a huge success without the hard work of the schools entire music department. Mr. Dobson, Ms. Wookey and Ms. Harvey all worked phenomenally hard to ensure that the evening was brilliant. Their passion for music and teaching really shone through.
The event was the perfect way to finish the winter term.
Headteacher, Stuart Smith said:
“The Winter Concert was just incredible. I really couldn’t be prouder of the outstanding talent shown by the students last night. The event was a real highlight of the year and wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Mr. Dobson and the music department. We have some incredibly gifted students and watching them perform last night with such confidence was amazing to see.”
The whole school community enjoyed the experience so much that they are now busy thinking ahead and are getting ready to prepare for their Easter music concert.