Mayor warns that funding cuts will hit local assembly grants

Lewisham is under considerable financial pressure Pic: Danny Robinson

Budget cuts in Lewisham will affect a variety of local services including school crossing patrol staff, residential sweeping and the local assemblies fund, the Mayor has warned.

Lewisham Council is under “considerable financial pressure” from the Government to identify £30 million pounds of cuts before 2021.

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham expressed his frustration at the cuts, saying: “When I became a councillor eight years ago, none of us ever imagined that our budgets would be continuously slashed by the Government so dramatically.”

Last month, the Ladywell Assembly Fund was given to six projects which benefit thousands of residents in the local community. However, speaking at this year’s allocation,  the Mayor  warned they would be unable to guarantee such grants in the future.

Egan acknowledged that “all these areas need more investment.”

The assembly awarded £12,500 to projects providing solutions to local issues such as safer streets, lower pollution levels, and increasing youth clubs.

Street Trees for Living is an organisation that plants trees in Lewisham to reduce air pollution. They previously have received funding from Ladywell Assembly and other grants on multiple occasions.

Xanthe Mosley, Joint Chair of Street Trees for Living, said: “This funding is core to our fundraising activities– it literally makes all the difference to our work. If the fund were to be stopped the effect would have a hugely negative impact on the community.”

The Local Assembly Fund has been running in all wards, including Ladywell, since the programme was launched in 2008.

The budget allocation for each assembly was originally £25,000 but was slashed by half in 2014 and 2015 as a result of central government cuts to the budget.

Councillor Amanda De Ryk, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We are facing the perfect storm – cuts to our budgets coupled with a greater need for public services in the borough and a growing population.”

Other proposed cuts include grants to voluntary sector groups, library staff, four automated toilets and large public events.

Currently, the council have only been able to identify £21 million of cuts and are now having to plug the gap with millions from the council’s reserved money.

Since 2010, Lewisham Council has been forced to make £165 million of cuts.

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