Greens say we should have a more ambitious plan for Surrey and invest in vital services, not cut them
5 January 2019
Surrey County Council has been consulting on proposed changes to some of its vital services:
- Children’s Centres
- Concessionary bus travel
- Libraries and cultural services
- Special educational needs and disability
- Community recycling centres
Surrey County Council is proposing £250 million cuts to its revenue budget – including £85 million over the next year. These cuts are primarily driven by the reduction in the funds Surrey receives from central government – the government has prioritised cutting taxes over funding local authority services.
At the same time as cutting services, Surrey has a £1.2 billion joint venture deal to sell off sites it owns – while continuing its strategy of buying up to £1 billion of real estate across the UK.
So the Council is shifting its property ownership from sites that provide services to a portfolio to generate an income.
We say the Council should have a more ambitious plan for investment in Surrey. It should:
- Invest in what we own – not selling it and buying property across the UK instead. Surrey should invest in better care homes (for older people, those with SEND needs, and for looked-after children), daycare centres, and providing school places in mainstream schools for children with special educational needs and disabilities. Surrey County Council will be more able to deliver a strong and inspiring 2030 vision for Surrey. Investing in our assets in Surrey to better deliver our services, and working in partnership with others, should reduce our budget needs.
- This means more community hubs, not fewer. The council’s asset and place strategy proposal suggests it wants to ‘co-locate’ services in 25 community hubs. There are currently 15 community recycling centres, 52 libraries, 58 children’s centres and many youth centres across Surrey. These should be innovated and transformed, not closed and amalgamated.
- Invest-to-save in our future. Invest-to-save should not be limited to the services we provide – but should provide more than just a return on income invested. Surrey should invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency of Surrey’s public sector buildings, lead in providing electric charging points and explore innovative ways to extend public transport. This would help Surrey lead in helping communities be more sustainable. Investing in a materials recycling plant (that separates out dry recyclables) in Surrey would mean that more of the money from recycling comes back to the council, and residents.
Prevention is better than cure. In the same way that fixing a pothole avoids the far greater cost of road resurfacing, Surrey should invest in public health (such as with a long-term health bond), in early help (children’s centres, youth services) and in quality care that keeps our most vulnerable out of hospital.
Reducing budgets in ways that reduce our basic frontline provision of services will harm the interests of Surrey residents. The job of the County Council should be to help and support its residents in the long term. The proposals being consulted on now do not deliver that aim.
Read our responses to the 5 consultations
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