Cut out free lunches to save cash

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Cut out free lunches to save cash Cut out free lunches to save cash

The recent announcement that a number of school control crossings are to face the chop, as Essex County Council makes cuts to front line services, is starting to paint a disturbing picture. The cuts come from on high, from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government, and Essex have so far decided to hit mainly services affecting young families and young people. It is these people who cannot vote, or are least likely to vote.

It has been stated that the cuts to the school patrol crossings will "save" about £300,000. Yet this is a fraction of the many £ millions that the county council magically "found" just a few weeks ago - when it decided to implement a 0% council tax change. At that time there was no mention of these proposed cuts - which the administration almost certainly were considering. We keep being told that despite "savings", front line services are being maintained - this is clearly not the case.

While Essex County Council propose cuts to a much valued service, this has to be considered in the ongoing context of ECC still lavishing free meals on councillors and high allowances and travel expenses by senior Tory councillors. They have a rebranding every year which costs us further money.

Alternative means of funding the crossing patrols are available. As well as cutting out free lunches, the administration could look to take some funding from the local highways panel revenue budgets, from reserves, or from other budgets where there is a projected under spend. In the context of a £2 billion total budget it clearly could be done, yet the Tories have deliberately chosen to put parents and children through the worry of yet another of its "consultations" - where we know what the outcome will probably be - as it was with children's centres and the youth service - big cuts.

It is clear the Tories are being very cynical in how they push the cuts through; choosing ones they think will do them the least harm electorally. Is it any wonder the young are more likely to feel undervalued by the politicians when the Tories treat them like this?

Steven Neville, Epping Forest Green Party

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