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WSCC to debate £535M budget on 14th Feb
Thursday, 13 February 2014 00:00

The Leader of West Sussex County Council is expected to use her budget speech to outline 10 major projects that will be delivered for the county over the next 12 months.

Louise Goldsmith will ask a meeting of Full Council to approve a £535 million budget for the authority for 2014/15 at a meeting on Valentine’s Day. The budget includes a proposal to freeze the county’s part of the council tax bill for householders for the fourth year in a row and multimillion pound investments in education, the county’s roads and adult social care.

Councillors will also consider a £55 million two year savings plan.

Louise said: “Families all over West Sussex have to balance their monthly income against their outgoings. We are no different. We have to make savings. However, for the same level of council tax as last year, we will be investing in the things that matter most to our residents — indeed, we will be investing more money than we are saving so this is not budget about cuts.”

It is widely anticipated that Louise will outline some key areas of investment that align with the Council’s priorities around giving the children the best start in life, helping the county’s elderly residents enjoy independence and good health in later life and boosting the economy at the meeting on Friday.

These areas are expected to include a £15 million pound investment in improving more rural and urban roads across the County, on top of what the County Council does every year as part of its roads maintenance programme, a £12 million investment in education in Worthing, including a new secondary school and additional school places, and a £6.25 million injection into adult’s services.

Louise said: “I’ve heard a lot of scaremongering and a lot of irresponsible talk about our savings programme and it is just plain wrong. We are in good financial shape. We will always do what’s best for our residents and we will always be there for those people who need us the most. The budget being presented to full council on February 14 marks the start of a new chapter for West Sussex County Council.”

Councillor Michael Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance, added: “It has never been more important for us to do what we can to give householders a break during these tough economic times and that is why we have made the decision to freeze council tax for the fourth year in a row.

“We have worked very hard to make savings by reshaping our organisation and making it as efficient as possible to keep council tax as low as possible. That work never stops.

“This council is committed to making sure that every penny of our hard earned residents’ money is spent wisely.

“By dint of good financial management we are able to propose a budget which maintains, or increases, the value of all front line service budgets, invests handsomely in the future, maintains adequate reserves and allows us to invest in greater efficiency to make further savings from our cost base in future years.”

Other significant investments expected to be announced at the meeting include a further £3.3 million investment in the County Council’s Think Family programme to support West Sussex’s most troubled families who need additional support to ensure that their children grow up with the best possible start in life.

The Leader is also expected to talk about making a further £1 million available to encourage communities to act against flooding as part of Operation Watershed 2014, and £1.25 million improvements to Queen’s Square in Crawley.

Businesses are also expected to be given the opportunity to bid again for grants from a second round of the Be the Business programme thanks to further funding of £500,000.

Finally, the continued rollout of high speed broadband over the next 12 months is expected to mean that 90% of householders across Sussex can access if it they want to by April 2015.

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Health and Social Care Bill
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

Health and Social Care Bill

 

The Health and Social Care Bill represents the most radical decentralisation of power that the NHS has witnessed in its history. It delivers three changes - changes that could only be achieved through legislation.

First, the Bill underpins a patients’ right to choose. The Bill is needed to stop healthcare providers – whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors – from frustrating the right of patients to decide how and where they should be treated.

Second, the Bill enshrines in law that frontline staff should have the power to decide how NHS resources are spent. We need to put power in the hands of doctors and nurses, rather than a remote bureaucracy.

Third, it gives NHS organisations the freedom they once had to organise themselves as they see fit. As Conservatives, we should not stand as a barrier to them. Not least because those freedoms will allow us to dismantle the top-down bureaucracy we know frustrates the frontline.

 

Louise Goldsmith.

County Councillor Chichester West Division.

Leader West Sussex County Council

 

 
Helping Families
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

How Conservatives are Helping Families


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Freezing council tax. We helped every local authority in England to freeze council tax last year and are funding another freeze this year, delivering savings to hard-working families and pensioners. The average household’s bill will be up to £72 lower this year on a Band D home than it would otherwise have been. This is on top of the £72 a year saved by families from last year’s freeze.

Cutting fuel duty. From April petrol duty will be a full 10 pence lower than it would have been without our action in the Budget and this autumn. Families will save £144 on filling up the average family car by the end of next year.

Cutting income tax for 25 million people. In April this year there will be a further increase in the personal allowance of £630, taking 260,000 more people out income tax and reducing the tax paid by 25 million people by an average of £48, without creating any more higher rate taxpayers. Together with the £1,000 rise which happened last April, that means a total of £326 extra each year. In total we have taken 1.1 million low paid people out of tax altogether.

Extending free childcare.  We have increased the entitlement to free education and care for 3- and 4-year olds to 15 hours a week. We have also extended the entitlement to the most disadvantaged 2-year-olds. By the end of the parliament, we will provide £760 million a year to ensure 260,000 disadvantaged 2-year-olds, around 40 per cent of the total, will receive 15 hours a week free education and care.

Increasing the Child Tax Credit. In April 2011 the Child Tax Credit increased by £225 – the largest increase ever. This April it will go up by 5.2 per cent, a further increase of £135.

Taking action on Energy Prices. After the Prime Minister held an energy summit in October 2011 to address concerns about rising prices, we have seen several energy companies pass on the international fall in energy prices to the consumer.

Helping with the cost of rail travel. We are investing £105 million per year to keep down the price of rail fares, helping commuters at the same time as ensuring further investment in rail network.

 

And our credible economic plan is keeping interest rates low – helping families, businesses and the tax payer. If interest rates went up by 1 per cent in this country, that would add £1,000 to the typical family mortgage. That is the risk that we would have with Labour’s plans for more spending, more borrowing and more debt.


Louise Goldsmith.
County Councillor Chichester West Division.
Leader West Sussex County Council

 
Conservative Priorities
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

Conservative Priorities

 

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 Adults Services: Funding for Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team (North) for 24 months to allow for a robust evaluation and service redesign

Children and Families: Annual Review of Fostercare Rates and Adoption, Residence and Special Guardianship Allowances

Education and Schools: Expansion of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Haywards Heath; Expansion of St Richard’s Catholic Primary School in Chichester; Extension of the age range of Bartons Infant and Laburnum Grove Junior Schools, the relocation of Bartons Infant School and redesignation of catchment areas for each of the schools for September 2014

Finance and Resources: Joint commissioning and procurement of Children’s Community Health Services with NHS West Sussex; Annual Review of Income Fees and Charges across the County Council

Highways and Transport: Integrated Works Programme (IWP); East Grinstead Controll Parking Zone – proposed amendment (formal advertisement) (decision to be taken by North Mid Sussex CLC).  

 

 

 
What LibDem Contribution?
Friday, 01 March 2013 00:00

 

The Lib Dem Contribution?

 

Council Leader Louise Goldsmith says - 'I sometimes despair about the motivation of the Lib Dems in County Hall. The County Council is having to find £79 million pounds of savings over three years, through driving out bureaucracy and very tight financial management. We have had to make some very hard spending decisions and reduce jobs. At all times we are looking to get the very best outcome for the resident for the very best price for the Council Tax payer.

It has been a huge challenge but the Council has met its target of £38 million pounds of savings in just one year, whilst still not increasing the Council tax. We know that residents are very concerned about the rising cost of living and jobs, as a direct response, and for the second year, we are not increasing the Council Tax. We have produced a budget which is good for residents and the economy of West Sussex. 

All the Libdems seem to be concerned about is Chairing a Committee, but when nominated and asked to take on the Vice Chair positions they refused. You really have to wonder what their priorities are. The Leader usually selects the Chairman, but to be more democratic Councillors were able to vote for their own Chairmen this time. The LibDems only seem to like democracy only when it favours them.?

 

 

 

 

 
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