Observer Comment: Cuts difficult to justify morally

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A CHANGE in the way East Sussex County Council funds local adult social care would have a huge impact on the most vulnerable people in Hastings and St Leonards.

The local authority, ruling from its ivory tower in Lewes, is discussing plans to remove funding for all but those deemed to be in a critical situation.

That would mean disabled locals would have vital support networks ripped out from under them. The very people most in need of help from their community look like being those who have most taken away from them.

Officials can – and no doubt will – say that priority should be given to those in the critical bracket. Nobody would disagree. But it should not be at the expense of people who, but for the very support the council is suggesting taking away, would slip into that group themselves.

The council has a moral obligation to provide an acceptable quality of life for everyone in society. That does not just mean being looked after medically. It also means providing people with the opportunities to learn new skills, work towards new levels of independence and, most importantly, enjoy the sort of life many of us so often take for granted.

Groups like the Parchment Trust and the local Mencap branch help hundreds of people achieve this. If they are worried about the proposals then the council should listen.

Not only would the decision to remove financial support to those deemed under substantial risk not be cost effective in the long-run, but it would also be very difficult to justify morally.

The Observer today stands shoulder to shoulder with these amazing local groups in calling for a better deal for the town’s vulnerable. We hope you, the readers, will join us.

Complete the online survey, email or write to your local county councillor and demand more because these people deserve better.

A MORNING spent in Hastings Magistrates Court can be a depressing experience. From repeat offenders who seem unfazed by their latest misdemeanour and unimpressed by the stern warnings from the bench, to genuinely unsettling stories of violence and sexual assault, a couple of hours can be very draining.

But it is also sad to see people hauled up in front of the JPs after a moment of stupidity – such as being sick in the street. Sussex Police’s new community resolution is to be welcomed. Rather than hammering a usually law-abiding citizen for one slip, staining their reputation and their future prospects with a criminal record over a low level offence, why not get them to make amends for their crime in a way that is relevant and useful to the victim?

Justice is there to punish wrongdoers and reinforce right and wrong in our community, but with our vast, complex legal system there is a danger that it can be distorted.

This new move should allow police officers to use their common sense, victims to get more satisfaction and first time petty criminals to avoid legal proceedings, with the hefty tab picked up by the taxpayer.

THE news that the Hastings Pier and White Rock Trust has picked an architect firm with a very modern outlook may not please everyone.

Hastings Pier is a historic part of our town and will always hold a special place in the hearts of local people.

However, any new pier will need to compete with modern tourist attractions and sit comfortably in the Hastings of today, not yesteryear.

For that reason the Observer congratulates the trust on its decision. We can’t wait to see what dRMM comes up with.