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Outrage as West Sussex cuts housing support by £4 million

The budget has been finalised and now the fallout has started as West Sussex County Council race round to calm the fears as the full impact of the cuts is examined.

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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.

They say:

“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:

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:

https://twitter.com/HenrySmithUK/status/1075307932517048321

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.

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‘Evidence of my antisemitism is a joke’ – Crawley Councillor explains her decision to go independent

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Northgate and West Green Councillor Karen Sudan has penned a statement following her decision to leave the Labour party, leaving the council with no party majority.

Her resignation statement reads:

“I have been a member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years. I have outstayed many Party leaders and my resignation is nothing to do with the recent change of leadership.

I was elected to be a voice for the people I represent, but Back Benchers under the current Council leadership have to fight to be heard – even those in the controlling group.

The Coronavirus crisis made it even more important for there to be input from all Councillors and at the outset I suggested setting up a crisis committee (which could, and perhaps should, involve opposition members. Their residents have as much right to representation as others). The Council Leader dismissed this suggestion, even though there was support for it from other Labour members. He said that councillors have no role to play in the current crisis, and he has acted unilaterally all along.

Although I would not say that Peter Lamb has not worked hard or done his best, I believe that CBC’s response to the Crisis has been poorer for lack of input from those of us who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, know our Town and understand ‘our’ residents. We are by no means out of the woods with Coronavirus – only yesterday I was discussing with colleagues at West Sussex CC, the likelihood and danger of localised outbreaks and/or a second wave. All elected representatives should have a voice and a role to play. This goes beyond the many things we have done and are doing as human beings to help one another.

This was my position on Saturday evening when I received a ‘Notice of Investigation’ from Party HQ, accusing me of antisemitism, the ‘evidence’ was three tweets, one posted 2017, another 2018 and one from 2020. This ‘evidence’, which I am prepared to share and put before any judge and jury, fiend or enemy, is a joke.

I do not know what triggered this, but I know from others’ experience how the Party works. While I was a Party member, I would be bound to keep this ‘investigation’ confidential. This would lead to gossip and a stain on my character and a great deal of stress. The ‘investigation’ would be allowed to ‘hang’ indefinitely to be used as an excuse to prevent me standing for office again or accepting office such as a Cabinet position.

I have chosen instead to resign my Party membership so that I can continue to focus on the job I have been elected to do (and I do see it as a job) and so that anyone who wishes to judge me can have available the original documents and make up their own mind about my anti-racist credentials.

Councillor Karen Sudan

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