For all the endless talk about Brexit–which will stretch into decades’ worth of negotiations if this deal does go through–you could be forgiven for thinking nothing else was going on in the UK right now, certainly not in the public sector. This is, of course, untrue. Until recent months, most of the public sector had not been engaged in preparing for Brexit in any meaningful way and even now we’ve been given little information on what needs to be done before the deadline just over a week from now.
Despite the dramatic cuts to public spending over the last decade, a fifth of all employment remains in the public sector, so at least some of these people would have to be involved in something other than Brexit. They certainly have been, they’ve been putting out fires, providing loved ones with medical care, teaching our children, catching criminals and defending the borders of our country, and they’ve been doing it with less money and manpower than at any time since the Second World War. No wonder most services are now at the breaking point, where they struggle to meet even the most basic expectations of residents.
This isn’t something which was done to us, this is the direct result of decisions taken by Governments the public elected and as each of Mr Johnson’s spending commitments unravel it’s becoming increasingly clear if the current course is maintained, citizens will no longer be able to expect the types of public services our parents and grandparents benefitted from.
For the last five years, I’ve fought to find alternatives to cuts, but with the Treasury planning to give even more of Crawley’s income to the county council over the coming years, we’re running out of options. From ending weekly bin collections and leaving some grass verges permanently uncut, to closing local play areas and shutting community centres, if the UK maintains this course those will be the easy cuts, after which the tough choices start. This isn’t the future I want for our town, but ultimately the choice is up to the voters.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council