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Peter Lamb: Finding the funds to save West Sussex’s homeless

In his article this week, Leader of Crawley Borough Council Peter Lamb addresses the proposed cuts to housing support services, and suggests where West Sussex County Council could find the funds to save them.

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Louise Goldsmith, the Leader of West Sussex County Council, tells us that cuts to Open House and other housing support services are necessary because they don’t have the money to fund them any longer.

Open House receives a grant of £262,075 and I was able to highlight in minutes where the money to save every hostel in West Sussex, about £1m, could come from.

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However, the full cut being proposed is £6.3m, so let’s look if there’s anywhere we can find the remaining £5.3m. For instance, last year West Sussex spent £5,933,666.54 on taxis, with a further £165,299.47 on travel expenses. £5,476,737.16 went to consultants and £831,450.74 on advertising and publicity, well they did increase their Policy and Communications budget by £300,000 last year, so that’s not really a surprise. They also spent £742,319 on books and newspapers, to be clear that figure excludes schools and libraries.

With all the empty West Sussex sites in Crawley alone, it’s not a surprise they spent £212,972.42 on vacant properties and a further £594,443.45 on office removals. Recruitment saw £537,219.64 being spent, alongside a peculiar £143,201.18 for ‘Music and Video’, with a further £198,656.84 on postage and £101,660.85 on stationery.

Now, no doubt there are good reasons for much of this expenditure, but that’s £15m which seems more questionably spent than the £6.3m necessary to support the homeless, vulnerable elderly and victims of domestic violence. I’d suggest Nathan Elvery, who was appointed Chief Executive two years ago at an ongoing cost of £220,166, starts by looking there. That’s before asking himself whether he really needs so many layers of senior management.

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When I became Leader at Crawley I removed the director-tier, so now heads of services report directly the Chief Executive. At West Sussex County Council they not only still have directors, but executive directors. That seems like the real expense West Sussex residents can no longer afford.

Henry Smith

Henry Smith MP: Stronger sentences for cruelty to animals

In his article this week Henry Smith MP talks about stronger sentences for cruelty to animals.

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Henry Smith MP

When I’m out and about listening to people in Crawley, one issue which tends to unite those usually on differing sides of the political spectrum is the necessity to increase the punishment for those who hurt animals needlessly.

Recently in Westminster I was pleased to meet with Battersea – the dog and cat rescue centre – to reiterate my support for Government proposals to extend the current maximum penalty for animal cruelty offences, specified under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, tenfold from six months imprisonment to five years.

This change would provide the justice system with the flexibility to treat the most shocking acts of animal cruelty much more seriously than it can at present. 

At Battersea’s event alongside a host of other MPs, we signed the organisation’s pledge board to highlight the strength of parliamentary support on this issue.

The Government already has a strong record on animal welfare and protection of animals. From the introduction of mandatory CCTV in slaughterhouses – a campaign I led in Parliament – to banning the use of wild animals in travelling circuses, it is right that action has been taken.

Other measures I have supported have been the introduction of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales to help stop the poaching of elephants, and the banning of commercial third party sales of puppies and kittens in England to end the terrible welfare conditions found in puppy farming.

I was pleased to serve as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Animal Welfare in both the 2015 and 2017 parliaments. As Groups such as this one are in the process of being reconstituted following the General Election in December, I look forward to playing my part in this APPG’s work in the months and years ahead.

Henry Smith MP
Crawley Constituency

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