Fringe Box



The Kingston View: Motherhood & Apple Pie Must Not Hide the Truth

Published on: 5 Oct, 2018
Updated on: 8 Oct, 2018

County Hall, Kingston

What happens in our county council, in County Hall at Kingston, has a direct impact on us just as much as decisions taken in the borough council.

In this article Cllr Fiona White (Lib Dem, Guildford West) gives her opinion of the county council cuts that are making national news headlines…

By Fiona White

There is no way to avoid the difficult situation facing local government at the moment. Surrey County Council is one of those councils in the “danger zone”.

Cllr Fiona White

Because of year-on-year cuts to government funding and poor decisions by the council’s leadership, Surrey is running out of money and has to try to find even more savings of millions of pounds in this current financial year, before we even consider the budget round for the year 2019/20.

We could find ourselves in a situation like that of Northamptonshire and Somerset who both have to look at splitting up the county councils and forming unitary authorities.

Budget after budget, Surrey council taxpayers are being asked to pay more for fewer services. That is not acceptable and often it is people who are on the lowest incomes who are hit hardest.

I am concerned that if the county council only offers services to those in the highest need, adults and children, it will store up trouble for the future. Early action to prevent a problem developing is much less costly than dealing with it once it has become an emergency.

The council’s leadership is putting together its “Vision for Surrey”. While I don’t deny that we need to have a vision of what the county should look like in the future that vision has to be honest.

Motherhood and apple pie are wonderful but they must not be used to hide the truth of our current situation. For example, the council needs to come clean about its plans for children’s centres.

It is clear to anyone who works in County Hall in Kingston – officers, councillors and visitors – that it is no longer fit for purpose. It does not meet the needs of a modern organisation.

It costs a lot of money to maintain. It is a cost that people in Surrey can no longer afford while our roads continue to crumble, our children’s services and provision for children with special education needs fail Ofsted standards and the budget for adults’ social care is at breaking point.

Having said all that, of course there is an issue with the cuts to government funding for local authorities. However, the Surrey Council Leader can’t get away with blaming it all on the government when they are all from the same political party.

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