CRISIS point. That’s how one strategic director has described the funding position for St Helens Council.

The statement (see story here) makes, worrying and depressing reading. It leaves remarks made by the Prime Minister last year about “the end of austerity” looking both bizarre and misleading.

St Helens Council has been hammered by grant cuts from central government, some £90million over the past decade.

As the money gets tighter, the decisions will become tougher, with the local authority having to prioritise statutory services, particularly in children’s services and social care where the costs are spiralling.

It will leave questions about how the council continues to fund services such as libraries, parks and play areas, while also dealing with an ageing estate of public buildings (which come with huge costs).

At the same time, for us, the public, council tax bills continue to rise. It looks at times like we are paying more – and charges for things we previously didn’t have to pay for (green bins etc) – while the standards of service is going down.

It is therefore very easy to turn our ire on the council. But, while public decision making is rightly held to account and questioned, more focus should be on the government’s funding squeeze on areas such as St Helens.

Brexit dominates the national spotlight so much, that the government’s actions are not being scrutinised like they should be.

When senior councillors speak up locally, the social media chorus will pipe up that it is just another politician bleating.

But it is ignorant to just cut the debate dead there. Austerity has punished this borough’s public services for too long, the government needs calling out on it.

St Helens Star:

Well done to Andy Reid (above) on becoming the Honorary Colonel of the Mersey Army Cadet Force. It seems fitting that as he approaches the tenth anniversary of suffering his dreadful injuries in Afghanistan, he once again has a military rank. Andy has tremendous experience in both the military and in life. He should prove an excellent role model.