Callous decisions

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So the head of West Sussex Adult Social Services, Peter Catchpole, says his decision to cut £31m from the disabled and vulnerable in West Sussex was ‘the most difficult decision I’ve been involved with in my public life’ (Observer, April 21).

No doubt he will get over it, unlike his victims.

I simply cannot accept that in one of the wealthiest counties of one of the richest countries in the world, our well-rewarded councillors and council officers are obliged to take funding from the disabled and vulnerable members of our community.

How do these people sleep at night? Pretty well, presumably, as they mostly seem to have a number of other ‘interests’ apart from their elected responsibilities.

A trawl through the rather fancy West Sussex website shows the four senior officers – chairman, vice-chairman, leader and deputy leader – alone have appointments on 14 other public bodies.

They have other private business interests – a chartered surveyor, an independent advisor’, etc.

The Head of Adult Services himself lists eight outside organisations he leads or participates in, as well as being an independent health sector consultant and business advisor.

The prime minister – who himself tragically experienced the loss of a disabled child – promised that disabled people would NOT be made to suffer as a result of the present financial difficulties.

Have our local councillors and officers taken a pay cut?

The chief executive is on £175,000 plus bonus.

The leader can claim £40,000 on expenses alone.

There are 21 staff at WSCC taking over £100,000 a year – and, of course, we have the well-reported recruitment of a Woodfuel Development Officer on £35,000 plus expenses.

Every organisation can work more economically – in the public just as in the private sector, and usually a very good start can be made at the top, at head office.

West Sussex County Council should go back and reconsider their priorities, not take the callous route of targeting the very much less fortunate in our community who rely on wonderful organisations such as the Aldingbourne Trust and the Apuldram Centre.

Richard Rickard

Greencourt Drive

Bognor Regis