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Sunderland Council targets the vulnerable in spending cuts

Labour-run Sunderland Council is choosing to target the vulnerable and cut front line services in applying its spending cuts. The fees they pay for Care Homes are already below par. But they are cutting them further.

Lesley Langton, a qualified nurse and manager of Highcliffe Care Centre in Witherwack, asks:

“We will have to make savings – but in which area? Do we get rid of cooked breakfasts, for example? Or cut down on the facilities we offer?”

There are also big cuts on help for the homeless and Early Years intervention.

This is the same Council which is dragging its fight on spending transparency. The same Council which spent £83,228.27p on foreign trips last year. The same Council which spends £4 million a year on publicity. The same Council that employs eight European Officers.

One of Sunderland's local MPs is Sharon Hodgson, the Shadow Children's Minister Sharon Hodgson. She had the brass neck to turn up to Hammersmith Town Hall on Monday evening to address a "mass demonstration". It was about 50-strong largely consisting of Labour councillors, ex Labour councillors, trade union officials and local Labour MP Andrew Slaughter and his staff - plus someone selling the Worker Revolutionary Party paper News Line.

The protest was about "cuts" in Children's Centres in my borough - the number of them is actually being increased from 15 to, at least, 16 but the running costs will be reduced through partnership deals with schools, churches, voluntary grouups and the private sector.

Presenting the report to the Council's Cabinet my colleague, Cllr Helen Binmore, had some good news. The details of the CSR meant that funding from the Government for our Children's Centres would be better than the prudent assumptions in the report. Rather than welcome this the Labour councillors absurdly demanded the report be withdrawn for its cautious assumptions in this regard.

Helen spoke in calm and measured tones yet was denounced by the Labour Group leader Cllr Stephen Cowan for "hyperbole." Cowan made a fool of himself denouncing a report he clearly had not read or did not understand - for instance demanding there be consultation on the proposals when this was precisely what was being approved at the meeting. Andrew Slaughter came to heckle and chat to colleagues rather than listen to what was being said.

I wonder what Sharon made of it all. Shouldn't she put her own house in order?


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