Video: Demo at County Hall in Lewes about cuts

Lewes Stop the Cuts demo outside County Hall'Amanda Bowles, chair of East Sussex branch UNISON
Lewes Stop the Cuts demo outside County Hall'Amanda Bowles, chair of East Sussex branch UNISON

Campaigners from Lewes Stop the Cuts (LSTC) joined other members of the public and trade unionists in a demonstration outside County Hall, Lewes, on Tuesday.

They were there to express concern about the cuts in jobs and services passed by East Sussex County Council.

The most obvious cuts are those affecting local jobs, said LSTC – 18 jobs are to go at the Lewes-based East Sussex Music Service, and a number are to go at the town’s Phoenix Centre.

Stop the Cuts spokesperson Chris Smith said: “These are cuts in investment that will cost us dear. The music service has been built up over years and offers a vital resource to Sussex children and adults. Cuts of this level will seriously damage the service. I am doubtful that the Phoenix Centre for vulnerable adults can survive these cuts in jobs. Some of the most vulnerable people in society will be harmed.”

Less obvious at first will be the cuts to services that everyone in East Sussex uses, he said. “There will be long term reductions on buses, schools, footpaths and similar things we all value.”

Councillors have approved plans to increase Council Tax in the county for the first time in four years. The 1.95 per cent increase, part of East Sussex County Council’s budget for 2014-15, was approved by a vote of 26 to 18, with three abstentions, after a three-hour debate at a meeting of the full council at County Hall on Tuesday.

The authority says the rise, which amounts to an extra 43p a week for a Band D council tax property, will give it long-term control over its future finances and enable it to reduce the level of cuts to essential services in future years.

With the council facing budget cuts of £110 million in the 10 years to 2020, the budget will see funding reduced for most departments.

However, the budget will see more than £57 million of additional funding ploughed into highways, including £10 million for unclassified roads and £2.25 million for fixing potholes.

Meanwhile, over the next four years a further £339 million will be invested in long-term projects, including job creation, funding school places, improving broadband capacity and major improvements to libraries.

Cllr Keith Glazier, council leader, said: “This is a budget which offers a pragmatic, sensible and long-term approach to the extremely difficult financial situation we have to deal with.”