The Chancellor announced during the Budget this week that we were reaching the ‘End of Austerity’, echoing the Prime Minister’s words from this year’s Conservative Party Conference.
Whether or not these cuts were necessary is an argument for another day. But the effect of austerity on Dartmoor and wider Devon is happening today.
You will read in this edition of the Moorlander about the extent of closed police stations across Devon and Cornwall, as well as the limited capability of our fire service due to the lack of firefighters. But the effect of cuts has reached far and wide. We look back on just what the impact has been on our national park and county.
Devon and Cornwall police chief Shaun Sawyer issued a strongly-worded statement condemning police funding cuts earlier this month.
The chief constable said his force and UK colleagues had managed the ‘tragic consequences’ of ‘excessive cuts’ for years.
And he said it was ‘unforgivable’ for the public and ‘inexcusable’ for front line officers ‘to continue down this road.’
He warned police officers had been dealing with the consequences of the cuts ‘at the cost of their own physical and mental health.’
Save Our Hospital Services campaign group has said that, due to funding cut backs, there are no beds at all in the following community hospitals: Axminster, Budleigh Salterton, Crediton, Honiton, Moretonhampstead, Okehampton, Ottery St Mary, Seaton, Whipton, Bideford, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Torrington, Ashburton, Bovey Tracey, Brixham, Dartmouth, Dawlish, Paignton and Kingsbridge.
The Moorlander also reported earlier this year that Devon’s three main hospitals – The Royal Devon and Exeter, Derriford and Torbay – were all missing key targets across the board.
Devon County Council’s deputy leader and Cabinet member for schools, James McInnes said about school funding:
“This Government has put more money into education and tried to make the funding system fairer to rural areas.
But I have to say the system still
penalises Devon schools and there isn’t enough money nationally to take account of the rise in the number of children being educated and all the extra pressures and responsibilities that have been placed on heads.
‘The fact that schools in Devon have had to cut around 600 teaching and support staff posts in the past year to keep their budgets in the black is testament to that.
‘Every child deserves a decent education because education in itself is something to which we should all aspire.”