Tough times with new cuts coming

East Sussex County Council has agreed to £18 million cuts to its local authority budget.

Councillors voted through the Conservative administration’s 2015/16 budget which follows a previous £70 million cost saving programme over the past three years.

Budget amendments proposed by both Labour and Liberal Democrats aimed at mitigating around a tenth of the proposed cuts were both voted down.

The meeting , this week, was preceded by a union-led demonstration outside Lewes County Hall in opposition to the “staggering” level of cuts proposed.

But one councillor, David Elkin, described the spending plans as ‘a sensible approach in tough times’.

Residents will be asked to pay 1.95% more in council tax as part of a budget that will see £139 million spent in one-off capital projects and £15 million on super fast broadband.

The council agreed £366 million of net spending for 2015-16 and pledged to focus on its priorities of protecting the vulnerable, boosting economic growth and helping people to help themselves.

Cllr Elkin said that the financially challenging climate meant the council had to have an ever sharper focus on its priorities.

He said: “We should be under no illusions that the continuing austerity we are facing means we have to cut our cloth accordingly.

“We’ve done everything we can in recent years to minimise the effect on services as much as possible, but we can’t avoid the fact that in tough times, difficult decisions have to be made.”