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Liberal Democrats challenge Conservatives at WSCC to put more money into frontline services in Monday’s Budget

February 25, 2022 11:54 AM

With council tax set to rise alongside hikes in national insurance and the cost of living crisis, residents expect that money to work as hard as possible for them say West Sussex Liberal Democrats.

Speaking in advance of the County Council budget meeting on Monday, the Liberal Democrats said that, while the current Conservative budget has some good ideas, too much is being spent on back office functions like Human Resources and Organisational Change and they are asking for more to be spent on the services that residents need and use on a daily basis such as roads, schools and social care and to address the climate crisis more quickly.

On Monday, at County Hall in Chichester, the Liberal Democrats will be challenging the Conservatives to accept their plan which:

  • - Invests an additional £1.5m into the highways budget for repairs to potholes, investment in pedestrian and cycling and in improving rights of way across the county
  • - Gives community groups access to a £1m fund to help them to climate-proof their communities through local actions such as solar panels on the village hall or developing community bike hire projects
  • - Invests a further £0.6m in mental health support in schools including, for the first time, specialist support to address the growing post-lockdown crisis in eating disorders
  • - Delivers additional support for carers and increased resources to keep elderly residents in the community as long as possible
  • - Enables the council to more easily access government funding for cycling, walking and public transport such as the Active Travel Fund and the Levelling Up White Paper proposals to improve public transport to London levels

Speaking in advance of the budget meeting on Monday, Cllr Kirsty Lord, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at West Sussex County Council, said:

"We residents of West Sussex are all experiencing a rise in our weekly food shop, the cost of heating our homes, and to fill up our cars. Very soon we will also be paying more in national insurance and council tax. We are having to make decisions at home to tighten our belts in some areas so that we can spend our money on the most important things. We expect our council to do this too. This is why, on Monday, we will be challenging the Conservatives to spend more money on the frontline services residents use every day such as roads and schools and caring for elderly or vulnerable relatives and not just using it to increase back office spending."

Cllr Kate O'Kelly, Deputy Group Leader, added:

"The Liberal Democrats are asking the Conservatives to put more money into road repairs and investment for pedestrians and cyclists , more money into mental health support for our children as they recover from the pandemic and providing more money to support our elderly residents and their carers.

We don't think it right that the Conservatives are using the increased council tax to put more into their back office budgets such as HR, policy and communications and to pay sinecures to backbench councillors. So we will be challenging West Sussex Conservatives on Monday to put this money into frontline services. Our residents deserve to get the very best value for the hard earned money they pay in council tax each year and our plan would deliver this."