Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 8th July 2015

Today George Osborne unveils his second Budget of 2015. Quite why the Chancellor has felt the need to issue an ‘Emergency Budget’ when he only wrote the last a couple of months ago is hard to explain without coming to the view that there were some things he’d rather the public didn’t know before the General Election.

The real question for us all now is where the axe will fall. As Cameron said before 2010, councils are the most efficient part of the public sector, yet they have repeatedly suffered the harshest cuts to their budgets. In the end there’s a limit to just how efficient an organisation can become.

The police are losing hundreds of frontline officers and the Justice system is stretched. School places are in drastically short supply and the NHS is already struggling to keep pace with an ageing population. So where will the Tories make their cuts?

People can argue as to the pace or even the necessity of austerity, but even putting aside those arguments you really have to question the Tories’ priorities. We’re told there’s no money for Police Officers, but the Government spent millions on Police Commissioners. We’re told there’s no money for school places, but there was the money to build free schools in towns where there were already spare school places. We’re told there’s no money for GP surgeries in Crawley’s new neighbourhoods, but Tory MPs can still afford to give themselves an 11% pay rise while reducing taxes for the super-rich.

It seems there’s always money for the Government to waste when it’s something they want, but whenever we ask for investment in the town’s infrastructure or support for Crawley’s community we’re told the money isn’t there.

I have no idea what is going to be in today’s budget, I very much hope it’s not as bad as I fear, but even if it isn’t our local services are already stretched. Crawley needs school places, Crawley needs more GP capacity and if devolution is to mean a thing Crawley needs a council with the resources to meet residents’ aspirations.

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