Yesterday’s Autumn Statement was full of bold headline figures, but already we can see that all is not as good as it may initially seem, according to local Liberal Democrats.
Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst (Central Watford and Oxhey), Leader of the Opposition on Hertfordshire County Council said, “This is a politically clever statement that may at first look appeal to the person on the street, but we can already see several significant problems in it.
“Much as I welcome a £50 million a year pothole fund, if spread over the same 148 highways authorities as last year, it is not nearly enough to address the estimated £12 billion backlog of road repairs.
“Equally, cuts to public health may seem innocuous to some, but reductions to the public health budget will have a significant negative impact on the essential prevention and early intervention services provided by the County Council. Given that much of the local government public health budget pays for NHS services, including sexual health, drug and alcohol treatment and health checks, this is a reduction to the NHS in all but name and will put extra pressure on services.’
“The Chancellor also announced plans to devolve more power to local authorities, principally metropolitan authorities in the North of England. I am delighted to see that local decisions will be taken nearer the ground there but am angry that we in Hertfordshire will not be allowed to do that too. With devolution of powers to Scotland, Wales, and apparently now the North of England why do we still have less say in how our local area operates?
“This is a complex announcement that is still being analysed by Local Authorities and experts across the Country. Our first impression is that the cuts are too deep and too fast, and that this will not serve the best interests of the people of Hertfordshire.”