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Free Press Readers' Letters, December 31, 2019

Shocking legacy of years of Tory cuts
Central government cuts have led to a 17 per cent fall in council spending on local services in England since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

Between then and the end of the decade, grant funding for councils in England has been reduced by £16billion and there have also been significant cuts for councils in Wales and Scotland.

John Elson's Free Press cartoon (25498939)
John Elson's Free Press cartoon (25498939)

The scale of almost a decade of savage austerity cuts to local communities across Britain is laid bare by a series of Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests across England, Scotland and Wales asking about the changes in local services between 2010 and 2019 for several key council services, including youth centres, public toilets, libraries and subsidised bus routes.

The FOI findings, using data for 330 local authorities, show the human cost of the cutbacks.

For example, a total of 859 children’s centres and family hubs, which provide support services for babies, young people and families, have been lost.

John Elson's Free Press cartoon (25498939)
John Elson's Free Press cartoon (25498939)

More than 21 per cent of public toilets have been closed, with more than 835 public conveniences disappearing since the Conservatives came to power.

Meanwhile, the number of council-subsidised bus routes has decreased by almost a third (32 per cent), a reduction of more than 1,224 services, increasing the isolation of many living in rural communities.

More than one-in-five (22 per cent) of libraries have either closed, been privatised or are now staffed by volunteers. This is a decrease of 738 council-run libraries. Over the past decade there’s been a ten-fold rise in the number run by volunteers, up from 21 to 227.

Each cut has a major impact on a community, whether it’s a pensioner feeling isolated in their home because they cannot get a bus, or people being unable to borrow books or use the internet in local libraries.

The widespread axing of youth centres has left many young people with nowhere to turn at crucial points in their lives.

This is the shocking legacy of nine years of Tory spending cuts and, as we enter a new decade, will it be business as usual from the newly-elected Conservative government? I am so pleased I was amongst the 10 million people who voted for hope and change.

Rodney Sadd


Please gift a sprinkle of hope to help end heartbreak

Heart and circulatory diseases kill 12,428 in the East Midlands alone every year and 560,000 in the area are currently living with these conditions.

I’m asking you to please think about the millions of families and individuals across the UK who missed this year’s festive joy; wishing that they could be home from hospital for Christmas lunch, are awaiting a new heart for their baby or hoping a cure is soon found for a loved one’s vascular dementia.

By donating to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) this festive season, you can help to make these Christmas wishes come true.

Donations to the BHF will go towards funding life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases. The BHF receives no government funding for research, so scientists in universities and research centres across the East Midlands rely hugely on donations to find new cures, treatments and ways to diagnose and prevent heart and circulatory conditions.

Please consider gifting a sprinkle of hope and help us get one step closer to beating heartbreak forever in the East Midlands.

To donate, please visit www.bhf.org.uk/Christmas

Amanda Bringans

Director of Fundraising at BHF


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