Nik Butler: ‘Austerity never bothered them anyway’

JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001
JPCT 120314 S14110969x Nik Butler -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-141203-095917001

They are making a list and they are checking it twice, we are going to find out whats naughty and nice.

As a committee of West Sussex County Council consider the council budget for 2015 and beyond we are too distracted by festive issues to pay close attention.

Briefly we skip over the alarming £68 million shortfall in funding which can only be compounded with further council tax promises.

Despite much of the stress in finances created by those political savings the efficiencies brought about by council tax freezes are damaging our communities.

Though councillors won’t be turned on this position; maybe we all should be like Elsa and ‘let it go’. Austerity never bothered them anyway.

Look ahead to the outline of key budget items and you wonder what might be in the margins or within the small print.

Four million pounds to alleviate pressure in adult services and no sign of improving County Youth Services.

I guess if you can’t vote or raise a campaign group then you won’t get your place at the table for a budget serving. How about multi million pound investment in high speed broadband? I feel like our county is the Charlie Brown of Internet promises and BT is Lucy, forever promising that this time Charlie Brown they won’t yank away the ball at the last minute.

Suffice to say I imagine 2015 will see a few well timed withdrawals followed by an ever increasing number of rural Internet users exclaiming ‘Good Grief.’

Fifteen million pounds to improve rural and residential roads at which point I wonder where is the plan for cycling infrastructure, or pedestrian access, improvement. Then again we probably need to improve roads to ensure that future Ambulance or Fire service journeys are little smoother and faster in transit given the distances of Accident and Emergency care for the county residents.

It’s always a pleasure to see that we can invest in roads more than we can in health. Then again I am sure that budgets for health care might be considered an issue for another level of Government; demonstrating that shoulder sloping is not just a physical malady brought on by a dependence on food banks. Funding shortfalls and a focus on items which are barely in their control leave me wondering if the county and district are not dressing up the turkey just a little too early for Christmas.