By the time you read this we will be in March and hopefully good signs of Spring around. Mind you as cold as it is Catkins seem to be in full Spring mode and bulbs are up with buds on them. There is always hope although I have to say the older we get the less we like this very cold weather. I hope everyone has been able to keep warm and dry most of the time.
I will mention first of all the items that we dealt with at County Council at our Budget meeting.
The first major item was the County Reset Plan. We have done a lot of work with the communities through the Covid 19 and this has helped the County consolidate and strengthen our thoughts on coming out of the Pandemic and moving forward.
I should mention that of course Chichester District Council is doing a similar exercise and I think there will be a lot more inter Council co-operation all-round going forward. This to me is a good thing and although we have always worked together to a certain extent I am sure it will become more relevant from now on and our new Reset Plan makes it clear that we have developed it with lots of collaboration between us and all the partners we work with. There are 5 main principles:
- Made in West Sussex reflecting residents, communities and businesses needs and building on our own strengths.
- Strong learning from our own and others’ experiences including Covid-19
- Realistic optimism and a sustainable business plan
- All this needs to be held together consistently with a focus on agreed priorities
- Provide clarity about what successful outcomes look like in 12 months time.
This is just a taster and really work for Councillors and Staff to try and get the best possible outcomes for all. We know that we can’t do everything but it doesn’t stop us trying and, if we did succeed, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
I would like to assure residents that of course Climate change is a big part of all the deliberations.
And then we get to the budget. Well this comes to 175 A4 pages so just to give a taster. As I said last month we are not looking to close any of the Household Waste & Recycling sites or our Libraries. As I’ve also said before, this often means that we have to reorganise how we use these facilities and for instance Libraries will often become community hubs. We started with a large Library in Worthing and it will have most of the County Services in this one building. As our lives change things have to change and we want the best we can get for the residents. We have some way to go but we will continue the journey. You will hear more about how we progress as the months go by.
You will know by now that we have set the Council Tax for 21/22 and the increase will be 1.99% plus the 3% extra that Government has allowed us to include for Adult Services. In simplistic terms the Council Tax for County increases by 20p per day.
It hasn’t been easy. We started with a 44 million funding gap and we have had some 90 million direct costs for the Pandemic. I am pleased to say that central Government has covered nearly all of this 90 million cost. We have made the budget and we have not had to use any of our reserves. That is a good thing because when reserves are gone they are gone and although we sometimes have to borrow from them we put the money back in as and when.
We are not out of the woods yet with Covid 19 but hopefully by the time you read this we will have more liberty. The vaccination programme has been wonderful and many including myself and husband found it quite a pleasurable experience with really helpful and happy staff and actually meeting some different people.
Keep safe and look forward to the Spring. As ever, if you want to contact me it’s email@example.com or mobile 07979 152898. Always happy to speak and do my best to help.
Janet Duncton, County Councillor Petworth division, CDC Councillor
Janet Duncton, County Councillor, Petworth division; Chichester District Councillor, Loxwood Ward
County Councillor, Petworth Division
Chichester District Councillor, Loxwood Ward