We write in response to your article about Wealden District Council’s future. We are extremely concerned that a council as good as Wealden has chosen to outsource the majority of its services which can only result in a reduction in quality, expertise and what will amount in the future to an extra cost to its residents. How short sighted – short term gain for long term pain. Wealden were one of the forerunners for recycling. We have an excellent refuse service, the grounds maintenance team used to be second to none, building maintenance to name a few that were in house.
You only have to look back to the floods of 2000 when Wealden’s direct service staff came out not only to help its own residents but also helped out nearby Rother when Bexhill and Normans Bay were flooded because Rother had no direct service of their own to call on.
You only have to look at East Sussex County Council who over recent times have reduced their workforce to know that the people that go are usually the ones with vast experience, who know their areas well and who to call on and what to do in any emergency. At the first emergency Wealden experiences after shedding their many direct services, the private company who will have to be called on will make a financial killing which will ultimately be put onto residents’ council tax. Wealden are very quick and proud to say they are not putting up their council tax but this is only because they are trying to offload many services to pparish councils. Parish councils like Willingdon and Jevington are totally run by volunteers – their councillors are unpaid and although have a vast amount of experience between them all, they are not as qualified as Wealden officers who will be moving on. Wealden Council has just revamped their Vicarage Lane offices and made them bigger to take on the staff from Hailsham and Crowborough. Was this a wise expense if they are now outsourcing many of their services? Have Wealden consulted with their residents? As we have received no consultation request we imagine not. How sad for the dedicated staff of Wealden who have given many years to making this district council one of the best in the country. It will be interesting to know what the predicted savings are. They will need to be millions to warrant shedding all their direct services.
John and Fran Pritchett, Lower Willingdon