“…people understand the climate we’re working in, and the challenging financial situation we face” that’s what East Sussex County Council leader Keith Glazier told the people of East Sussex in an open letter last week after the authority voted to slash almost £10m from its adult social care budget.
Those cuts will hit hard across the whole county and in Hastings the most visible sign will be the closure of the Isabel Blackman Centre in the Old Town. But Mr Glazier’s words have cause uproar in some quarters coming just a few months after he was awarded a 37 per cent increase in his councillor’s allowances.
One former Conservative councillor told Hastings In Focus at the weekend, “I hope he loses his seat.”
Writing to Hastings In Focus Sarah Searle said of the cuts to adult social care: “Is it because of the leader’s big pay rise? Totally shameful!” While Caroline Piper said it was, “Sickening.”
Amanda Morris says: “A 37 per cent pay rise for yourself last year though, managed to find that okay didn’t we?”
Last October East Sussex County Council increased the allowance Mr Glazier receives for being leader from £25,113 to £34,440 an increase of 37 per cent.
Opposition councillors were not happy, Liberal Democrat councillor Sarah Osborne saying that at a time of cuts and planned library closures the decision to give such a large increase was “ridiculous.”
Mr Glazier defended the increase by saying: “We are running an organisation of about £815 million per year. How many chairmen of businesses would be performing that task for 25 grand a year, I ask you?” Adding, “The chief executive does the work but the chairman of the board is there to oversee the running of the company and that’s what I see my job as.”
Of the £9.6m of cuts voted through last week – which will also hit East Sussex Stroke Recovery and HIV Support services – Mr Glazier says they were: “…the least worst option.” While leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council said: “Local government is being starved of finance. The idea that we can still provide services to the vulnerable people in our society, the vital services that our communities need and demand, is highly questionable.”
It was a stormy meeting with claim and counter claim as to who was to blame for making the cuts in services.
The decision to make such large cuts to the Adult Social Care budget comes soon after a series of library closures across the county, including the library in Ore and at a time when a major consultation project is taking place on the future of music tuition in the county’s schools