The leader of Horsham District Council, Ray Dawe, has been trumpeting the news of the council tax freeze at every opportunity.
What he seems less inclined to shout about is the massive deterioration in local services that has resulted from the council’s lack of investment.
Ray Dawes claims that, at the same time as reducing expenditure, Horsham council has managed to deliver important services.
However, in a recent article in the West Sussex County Times he managed to recollect only one specific service, the weekly refuse collection, and vaguely referred to others. Perhaps his difficulty in listing anything more specific arose from the fact that due to his party’s savage cuts the ‘others’ amount to very little indeed.
Youth services, support services, environmental services have all had their funding cut to the bone.
Is it any surprise that the district is experiencing increased levels of anti-social behaviour when youth projects are forced to close due to lack of council funding?
Perhaps this anti-social behaviour would be tackled more effectively if funding for the community support officers had not been reduced.
Support agencies are expected to rely on volunteers where they once had secure funding from the council. The unpredictability of their funding streams and volunteer support makes service delivery more difficult. Elderly people and other vulnerable groups suffer as a result.
The council is even failing to deliver its core responsibilities, like street cleaning. Our residential streets are unswept and litter-strewn. To address this, rather than fund street cleaning properly and manage it more efficiently, the council has introduced a bizarre new scheme called Adopt A Street.
Volunteers will be supplied with free litter pickers and black bags. A better name for the projects might, therefore, be, Clean Your Own Street.
The Lib Dem Group leader on the council has noticed something not quite right with the council’s service delivery.
She said recently, ‘HDC has axed so many staff jobs, that there are not enough people left to deliver projects.’ But didn’t she and her Lib Dem colleagues think about that before they voted in the council chamber to support the Tories cuts?
Horsham Labour Party believes that councils have an vitally important role to play in delivering the services that are needed to bind a community together.
We believe that councils should provide value for money in exchange for the council tax. Achieve that as a council and you really have something to celebrate.
This is an achievement that should not be compromised by the desire to make savings for savings sake.
It is clear that if Horsham residents want to receive decent services and a clean, high quality environment, we need a change in our council chamber and we need it soon.
Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham