West Sussex have a problem with holes at the moment, it seems.
The first is the kind that any driver, cyclist or motorbike rider in Crawley can tell you about – potholes. There are more and more of these things popping up all over town, along with growing cracks, raised or sunken metalwork, uneven pavements and any other signs of poor maintenance and the use of cheap materials.
To help them to know how people feel about the state of the roads (that we pay our ever increasing Council Tax to WSCC to maintain) a new website has, as trailed, been set up.
If you have tales of potholes that are not being fixed after having been reported, or were the repair is inadequate, pop along and either leave a comment or use the email address: Join the Crawley Potholes Club
One possible reason that WSCC could have for it’s failure to keep our roads up to standard could be that they are rubbish at handling money.
Firstly, they managed to overspend on Fastway by £6 millions and not notice until right at the end of the project. Cause – piss poor project management, and who led the project? West Sussex.
Secondly, when Henry Smith became leader of WSCC it had pretty much no debt. Now, even though they have been flogging off playing fields and old-people’s care homes* they have managed to accrue about £300 millions in long-term debt. Much of this in Government-enabled credit, where WSCC were lent money so that they could build all the new schools and things that Henry would like to take all the credit for. The Government arranged to pay the interest for the first few years, and WSCC should have been working out a way to minimise the balance before that interest holiday ended.
The holiday is over, and instead of reducing their debts, the Tories at County Hall are racking them up further, and the interest is being piled on top.
In contrast, the Tories at Crawley have inherited a well managed pot of money – £100 million. How long before they widdle that lot up the wall as they close down services?
And potholes? Well, I have been looking at the West Sussex council website, and in particular at the amount that they spend on roads. In 2005/6, the amount gross revenue amount spent on Highways and Transport was £63M. In 2006/7, it had fallen by over £5M to £58M. In the same period, they increased Council Tax by over 4%.
What’s more amazing is that in the budget for that year, the Tories has promised to increase spending by several million quid. So are they so inept that they can’t stick to a budget, or were they avoiding spending money on Highways & Transport so that they could pay for the Fastway SNAFU?
Who knows? All I know is that some Tory councillors are more concerned with arguing over who goes to meetings or not, rather than how the authority that they sit on and help run is seemingly unable to handle money. I thought that the Tories were supposed to be savvy with cash…
* I was going to put a note in here about the débacle following the sell-off and contracting out of care services for the elderly, but it deserves a post of its own