A BID to overturn a budget cut to a Bognor Regis day centre has been defeated.
Cllr Francis Oppler (Lib Dem, Orchard) said the cut was an example of how the council was slashing its spending on worthwhile causes.
The council’s original cut of £12,000 to AgeUK West Sussex for the coming year had been worsened by a further £10,000 reduction. This was on top of a cut last year and another likely cut for 2014.
“It is a particularly cruel move by the Conservative group as these centres are a lifeline for many older residents within the district.
“For some, they provide the only hot meal and social contact they have during the day,” he said.
“These cuts will really hit their quality of life.”
The only moral course of action, in view of the council’s likely £13.4m balance next year, was to restore the £12,000 cut to AgeUK’s annual budget until the end of its contract with Arun in 2016.
Cllr Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton Beach) said: “This is not a one-off reduction in grant but part of a successive programme of cuts. Reductions in grants over the years means services having to be cut.
“We can easily restore this money and make a world of difference to AgeUK and these two centres.”
Cllr Roger Nash (Lab, Pevensey) said the centres could not survive yearly cuts.
“These cuts could be the straw that broke the camel’s back. We need to prevent that. It would be a very regrettable thing to happen.”
But Cllr Paul Wotherspoon (Con, Middleton), who heads Arun’s community services, pledged to ensure the centres survived. “The day centres are booming,” he said. “All the while they come under me, they will be safe in my hands.”
Council leader Cllr Gillian Brown (Con, Aldwick East) said: “AgeUK have been very successful. No one likes having their budget cut but AgeUK did confirm services could still be delivered without an adverse effect on the users.”
The cuts were part of the reducing support from Arun agreed with AgeUK when the contract was signed. Cllr Norman Dingemans (Con, Walberton) said “AgeUK are very positive, They are not wringing their hands in concern.”
Cllr Paul Dendle (Con, Arundel) said it was a desperate move to pick on the grant cut.