A dirtier and less safe Southend-on-Sea after the cuts?
January 17, 2013 1 Comment
Quite often it is the small things. I have had many conversations that have begun along the lines of “I know this is quite trivial, but …” Quite often it is the small things that really make a difference.
The draft proposals for this year’s cuts to Southend-on-Sea Borough council’s budget include a number of large and eye-catching items. It has to, with something like £10 million that has to be saved. Amongst these are some smaller items, and four of these give me a cause for concern.
The decision to save £47,000 by no longer providing black refuse sacks is one that could easily be a false economy. Litter and fly-tipping feature large in many councillors’ casework inboxes, and this cut has the potential to make this an even bigger feature. Whilst most households will grudgingly purchase their own supply of black sacks, there will be those who choose either to dump everything in the pink sacks, to use carrier bags and the like, or to just throw their general trash wherever they can get away with it. All these options will increase the workload for street cleaners and will add more woes for the neighbours.
Like the decision the scrap the pest control service (saving £37,000), this has the potential to make Southend a less healthy borough – an irony when you consider that much of the PCT’s duties transfer to borough control within the next few months and the borough takes responsibility for public health. I am perturbed that this transfer of responsibility could coincided with worsening health outcomes.
I have used the pest control services on more than one occasion. I am concerned that some will choose the option to grin and bear it when faced with paying a private supplier of control services. This cannot be good for any of us.
For similar reasons (the threat to public health) I have worries about the cut to toilet maintenance (£10,000). Our toilets may have won awards last year, but is this likely to repeated after this cut? I am already concerned that we have too few in the town, and my wish for an increase in provision is likely to go unheeded. The £37,000 to be saved by outsourcing the stray dogs service is something else that I hope will not give us cause for regret. I have read many stories about dog bites and the like and I sense that there is real disquiet in some quarters about dogs in our town.
I accept that savings have to be made, but I cannot help but be anxious that some of the savings will prove to be expensive in the long run. We could be spoiling the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar. If these savings can be made without making the town a worse place, with poorer public health and dirtier and less safe streets then I may be able to support them. If there is some doubt over this then I feel we should take another look at the budget.