Council leader Ruth Dombey warns of 'difficult decisions' in New Year message to Sutton Guardian readers
Sutton Council leader Councillor Ruth Dombey praised the borough's residents for their strong sense of community.
But, in her New Year's message to Sutton Guardian readers, she also warned of a continued need to "rethink how we can continue to deliver our services in these difficult times."
"Happy New Year. I hope you had a wonderful holiday time with family and friends.
"The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on the previous 12 months.
"For me, the highlights of 2013 include the refurbishment of the Westcroft Leisure Centre to give us a lasting Olympic legacy and some outstanding school results including 95.6 per cent of pupils achieving five A* to C grades and Sutton’s primary schools being rated London’s best by Ofsted.
"Against the backdrop of around 30 per cent real terms cuts in grant funding from central government, we’ve worked hard to attract private investment into Sutton to create economic opportunities and jobs.
"Last year we generated £317m worth of planned new investment through our Opportunity Sutton programme, with the potential for 1,700 new jobs.
"We have also been able to protect frontline services by making savings from working differently including sharing more services with neighbouring authorities.
"2014 is going to be even tougher financially. Last month central government announced it will reduce our grant by a further 17 per cent in cash terms over the next two years. We have also had funding cuts in other areas including a New Homes Bonus Grant which has been reduced by around 35%.
"This means some difficult decisions for all of us this year as we simply cannot afford to carry on providing many services in their current form.
"While local authorities all over the country face similar problems, we do have a tremendous advantage here in Sutton – you.
"There is a strong sense of community in our borough and people are rightly proud of their local area. Sutton is a place where people get on well together and look out for one another.
"Now more than ever before we need to work together to decide our priorities and rethink how we can continue to deliver our services in these difficult times.
"We have lots to be proud of in Sutton. Our borough continues to be a wonderful place to live, work and bring up a family. Together we can make Sutton even better.
"Finally, given the terrible weather, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know about our Winter Information Centre on our website Sutton.gov.uk.
"It contains links to information such as school closures, traffic and weather reports, advice and support to stay warm and how to report any problems caused by bad weather. Hopefully you won’t need to use it but it is there if you do.
"With my very best wishes for 2014."
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