Cuts to local government grants over the past four years have been one of the most damaging policies of this disgraceful Tory led coalition. Propped up by the shameful and hypocritical Lib Dem MPs, the cuts that have been made, hidden partially from view by council tax freeze grants, are now having a devastating effect on local services and the lives of local people.
As we enter the fifth year of an ideologically driven agenda designed to replace strong public service with outsourcing to the private sector and the destruction of local democracy, councils are being pushed to breaking point with many vital services going to the wall.
In South Basildon and East Thurrock the list is growing. The scrapping of hot meals for elderly day service attendees, the slashing of millions of pounds from the youth services budget and turning out the street lights are just a few decisions being made without a whimper from the local Conservatives toward their Bullingdon masters in Westminster.
And 2014/15 is set to be the harshest year of all. Nationally our NHS is under severe pressure due in part to inadequate provision of adult social care services locally. The bedroom tax, which will be scrapped under a Labour government, is forcing residents into hardship or out of their communities. And the increasing cost of living crisis has seen over 1000 foodbanks created nationally and a large rise in usage at a local level.
After all the above actions which are dismantling our communities at an alarming rate the Essex seaxe turns to education and two horrendous decisions to be implemented that will damage the lives and education of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.
The cutting of children’s centres and “home to school” transport.
Little Treehouse Children’s Centre in Castle Point , The Ark Children’s Centre in Brentwood, Laindon Park Children’s Centre and the Hills Children’s Centre in Basildon.
20 sites will now operate for 50 hours per week and there will be 14 designated delivery sites offering between 5 – 25 hours per week. Severe cuts to services for children with young families and a complete betrayal by the Tories.
And from September 2015 Essex County Council will only be providing transport to a pupil’s nearest non-faith school unless there is a statutory duty to provide transport. From September 2014 post 16 learners from low income families will be asked to make a contribution of £450 per year for transport to post 16 education which can be paid in instalments. Furthermore, the provision of subsidised transport to post 16 learners (other than in certain circumstances) will be ceased from September 2014.
The Tory led government have used a global financial crisis caused by the banking industry to attack our local public services at an alarming rate. A Labour government in 2015 will beging to turn the ship away from the “survival of the fittest” mentality of a selfish and individualistic society, and toward true localism and a collective responsibility to make sure that all are provided for equally. It will be a difficult journey but six more years of this failed Tory ideology and what will be the state of our Essex towns and our local democracy in 2020?