Leaders of all five district and borough councils in East Sussex have thrown their weight behind a campaign calling for fairer funding for the county.
The Stand Up For East Sussex campaign is urging people to sign a petition calling on the Prime Minister to urgently rethink the funding the county receives.
The cross-party support from leaders of all five East Sussex districts and boroughs comes as a fresh boost to the petition, which more than 5,000 people have signed since it was launched a month ago by East Sussex County Council.
The campaign highlights the mounting pressure on essential services for some of the county’s most vulnerable people as public spending declines, while it also points out that East Sussex also has to contend with below-average wages, lack of large firms to boost business rates and often inadequate transport links.
Yet government funding for the county is dwindling. The county council has had to make savings of £112 million since 2010 with a further £58 million expected over the next four years on current estimates.
David Tutt, Liberal Democrat leader of Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “The remorseless nature of the government cuts in funding for public services is devastating.
The cross-party consensus for this campaign reflects the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for the government to reassess the funding settlement for East Sussex.”
Peter Chowney, Labour leader of Hastings Borough Council, said: “I fully support the county council’s campaign to restore funding for local authority services to the county and district councils in East Sussex. Local services throughout the county have suffered because of grant cuts. We need grant funding restored to a realistic, sustainable level if we’re to deliver the local services that people need.”
Andy Smith, Conservative leader of Lewes District Council, said: “The pressure on core services in East Sussex has never been greater. These are services that the most vulnerable in our communities rely on, the type of support that some can take for granted, but many cannot. I am fully behind this campaign and hope that the Prime Minister and her colleagues will reflect on the impact the cuts in local funding are having.”
Carl Maynard, Conservative leader of Rother District Council, said: “Providing the quality local services that people rely on is harder than ever because funding simply doesn’t reflect the real needs of our population. By speaking up together we can urge a serious re-think of the support that’s given to people in East Sussex.”
Bob Standley, Conservative leader of Wealden District Council, said: “Local government has made significant savings in recent years. The county council faces particular challenges with the increasing demand for adult social care and children’s services across the whole county including the Wealden district. I support the Stand Up For East Sussex campaign which is asking for sufficient funding and greater freedom in how councils can deliver services to the community.”
As well as calling for sufficient funding for all local government services, the petition asks ministers for a further funding settlement for adult social care services past 2019-20, more powers and fundings for Transport for the South East, a new sub-national transport body, to include improvements to the A27 and A21 in the new Road Investment Strategy and invest in high speed rail to Hastings, and devolve skills funding for 16-19-year-olds.