Government cuts will cost lives in Sunderland, claims the city’s council leader
Coun Paul Watson hit out during a heated council meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre over the Government’s plans to redistribute public health funding and slash local authority budgets.
The new way in which the Department of Health’s public funding is now shared has seen more deprived areas in the North East receive less cash than more affluent areas in the south.
Sunderland has had £1.47m cut from its 2015/16 public health budget of £23.8m.
Coun Watson said: “Taking 1.4 million pounds away will kill people in our city. We cannot be soft about this.
“Working-class people are not being given a chance. Even during the Thatcher years the Government had some kind of idea about what was going on, but this one doesn’t.”
Leader of the opposition Coun Peter Wood, a Conservative for the St Michael’s ward, moved for the wording of the motion to be changed.
He wanted the wording to call on the Government to “give further consideration” to the redistribution of cash rather than demanding it “stop”.
He also said the Government does care about the health of people – having created better food labelling and stopping shops from displaying cigarettes and tobacco.
However, the change to the wording was rejected with 52 votes against and five in favour.
Coun Graeme Miller, who represents the Washington South ward, urged all parties to unite to support the motion.
He said: “I insist they vote with us on this, else shame on them. They are putting people’s health at risk and they are here to look after their residents.
“It’s a case of your people can die early and live in pain but – down in the south east, where they live in nice little cottages and mainly vote Conservative – they’ll get to live 20 years longer.”
Coun Louise Farthing said “There are plans to improve our control over the supply of alcohol in the city, but these will not come to fruition if we are denied resources to support and encourage individuals to take seriously their own health and wellbeing.
The vote ended 52 in favour of the motion and five abstained.
Coun Paul Watson and gv of Sunderland Civic Centre.