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East Sussex County Council leader sea over budget cuts
As a council discussed ways to slash £60 million from its budget over the next three years its leader was on a luxury cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
As it looks to balance the books in the wake of Government cuts, East Sussex County Council predicts between 80 and 100 posts could be lost in the next year.
While bosses said they are working towards a council tax freeze for 2013/14, children’s and adult care services will be hit the hardest.
Council chiefs said they were committed to driving economic growth, help ing people live independently and protecting vulnerable people from harm.
But opposition councillors predicted uproar and slammed some of the plans as “totally unachievable”.
Keith Glazier, the council’s deputy leader, described it as a “first attempt” at making the savings, adding: “This is the start of a consultation process. It is a big amount of money but it’s important to remember that we will still spend £496 million providing services.”
Coun Glazier told The Argus grass cutting, weed spraying and winter maintenance budgets would “not be cut” in the next three years.
He added the figure for the exact savings for this year was still a “guesstimate” until the Government’s autumn statement announcement in mid-December.
Central to the budget will be a council tax freeze, which will earn the local authority a one-off Government grant of £2.4 million.
However, over the rest of the three years budgets will have to be reduced by up to 20% as Whitehall cuts hit.
Among the services which could be affected will be children’s centres, home-help for elderly people and after-school clubs.
The local authority said it would continue to support the rollout of superfast broadband in rural areas, build the Bexhill to Hastings link road; and regenerate Eastbourne town centre and Newhaven.
Liberal Democrat group leader David Tutt suggested the local authority use some if its reserves to “prop up budgets” in the short-term until millions of savings through working with other councils were achieved.
The final decision will be made at the council’s budget meeting in February.
Council leader Peter Jones was not at the meeting as he was on the Cunard-operated Queen Mary 2.
Information on the firm’s website said it was docked in Lisbon as part of a 12-day Atlantic trip with balcony cabins costing up to £3,750.
When asked if he felt it was appropriate, Coun Jones said: “I’m retiring from the post soon and Coun Glazier as been selected as a successor. It’s extremely appropriate that he should lead the setting of the budget.
“He has responsibility for the finance portfolio and will be leader of the full council in a few months’ time.”
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