The cuts shockwave will hit us all soon
THERE is an unwelcome high speed train hurtling down the tracks and heading straight for Ashford - massive public spending cuts. The government this week announced the first £6.2bn in a series of cutbacks. Sooner or later the shockwaves are going to reach Ashford as it is expected to contribute to £1.165bn in savings among local authorities. Council staff will understandably worry about whether they will still have jobs in the next couple of years. The public will also genuinely worry about how their services will be affected. It is additionally frustrating because it is still too early to say exactly where the axe will fall. Which departments will suffer? How many jobs will go? Council leader Paul Bartlett has begun answering these questions, saying that frontline services will be protected and that natural wastage will be used before redundancy. It is this latter point that is the most concerning - any worker losing their job will have an uphill struggle to find another. There are already millions out of work, with the dole queues lengthened by people already made redundant in the private sector. Thankfully Ashford will follow the standard practice of resorting to natural wastage first, which is both wise and humane. These cutbacks are unavoidable, so Ashford council should take the time it needs to carefully consider where the savings should be made. It must be ruthless in ferreting out genuine waste. The only sensitivity should be for the livelihoods of honest working people and genuinely needed public services.