Some of you may have seen the post that we shared on Facebook earlier today regarding the funding arrangement between Surrey County Council and Surrey Wildlife Trust. Whilst we have removed the post, as we have been made aware that there were some inaccuracies in the information we shared, the case does raise cause for concern.
Surrey Wildlife Trust announced last week the restructuring of its countryside management team, following budget cuts by Surrey County Council. Government cuts mean the council can no longer afford to pay for its countryside estate and SCC wants it to become self-financing by 2021.
With many local authorities facing unprecedented budget cuts, local councillors are making difficult decisions about where money should be spent. As there are many services which councils have a statutory obligation to provide, cuts and reductions are invariably being felt in services which are not mandatory. Regrettably such cuts are most likely to be felt by silent services which may not have a large number of users but which we probably all enjoy and cherish, either directly or indirectly.
In the case that was highlighted it is clear that Surrey Wildlife Trust is having to take tough decisions about how it continues to manage the natural habitats it looks after, in face of the reduced budget it is receiving.
As wildlife doesn’t respect administrative boundaries what happens in Surrey could have an impact in Sutton or other neighbouring areas. Where Sutton’s nature sites enjoy the benefit of proximity to populations of species in Surrey’s habitat, any changes over the border could have an impact on Sutton’s sites.
As budget cuts have the potential to impact upon areas of everyday life far beyond the frequency of bin collections, the need to know what decisions are being taken is vital. Petitions are one way of being made aware and recording your opinion, but it is important that all the information is considered. There are other ways of finding out about local issues and changes that may be planned. Charities and other interest groups will often highlight things that are expected to impact their area of activity, but councils and other authorities will also have a way of briefing local people as well as enabling them to share views and opinions.
Whilst there may be no way of avoiding the need for cuts to services, engaging with decision makers at an early stage of the process will provide the best chance for the public’s views and opinions to influence the final decisions.
Sutton has not been immune from it’s own budget cuts and for the last few years Sutton Council has been embarking on changes which will shape Sutton’s Future. You may not have given much thought to the services that the Council provides, and the impact of changes to the way they are funded or how the Local Plan may affect the green spaces and places we enjoy.
In order to ensure that the things we cherish and value are given the utmost consideration by those who influence their future we urge you to investigate how to get your opinions known.
Suttons Future Consultation – Sutton’s Future
Draft Local Plan consultation – Sutton 2031
My Sutton online community – Have YOUR say ! My Sutton