Budget consultation: Can the Leader of the Council explain to me and the nearly 700 other people who made comments on the Budget consultation, why the report on the consultation was not available before the council meeting in February when the Budget was decided?
Budget consultation. Can the Leader of the Council explain to me and the nearly 700 other people who made comments on the Budget consultation, why the report on the consultation was not available before the Council meeting in February when the Budget was decided?
As was made clear in all the publicity material, this year’s Budget Consultation was primarily the first year of a two-year process in order to help inform the difficult decisions the authority could be facing over the next year. A summary of the findings was provided to members of the Executive ahead of this year’s budget to ensure that the priorities of our residents were checked against those in our proposed budget.
One of the key findings is that the top three priorities supported by respondents were that:
1. New housing is built where it is appropriate and comes with good infrastructure and facilities;
2. We have a thriving economy with a successful range of businesses and;
3. Roads are well-maintained.
These findings and others were reflected in the Budget approved at Council in February. As stated already, the full findings will inform both further targeted consultations and the setting of next year’s Medium Term Financial Plan.
A full report on the findings of this year’s consultation will be published soon and all those who took part (and who provided email addresses) will be notified. I know that you will be one of those because you filled in a consultation so thank you very much.
I am disappointed of course that nothing has been produced for me, a member of the public and anybody else. I have no understanding of why that problem has occurred. As you know there are almost 700 people making comments. I imagine I am not the only one who was looking keenly for this. You have at least answered part of the question by saying that at least some members of the Council have received these comments. It is a pity that nobody thought to perhaps send them to the members of the public. You have also made the comment that I was going to make that this is part of a two pronged approach. Next year you will be moving to the difficult decision. The Leader of the Council has rightly referred to priorities. We have a range of priorities already. They are in every agenda. I would specifically like to refer to the second one and that second one is ‘Investing in regenerating towns…’ I will not go through the rest of it. What I want to understand is why that priority has not appeared in the consultation? You have heard from two members of the public and you can hear from me as well about the effect of the regeneration; millions of pounds spent, millions of journeys delayed, millions of revenue not being received by local businesses. So can I ask the Leader to ensure that the Budget consultation for this year is done earlier, stating the obvious, as you are obviously going to want to do that, includes reference to the regeneration, which is a clear priority just by the questions you are getting already, and obviously reported earlier to allow, if necessary, a referendum on a higher Council Tax increase, as the Council will be taking back control of its money from government at the end of next year.
Thank you for your long and protracted second question. I have assured you that the results of the initial budget consultation will be published and they will be.
In terms of regenerating the town, I will refer you to the agenda tonight and the Council Plan Review which is in here. It goes through everything we had promised and what we have delivered. I think it is a really comprehensive plan and I urge you to read it if you have not already got a copy. In terms of the next few years we are going out for consultation for the next Council Plan and it is a really good opportunity for all of our residents, partners, voluntary sector, partners in health, Police, everyone to get involved in shaping what should the priorities be for the coming years. I know that you will want to get involved and I urge you to get involved in that. In that regard you can shape what we do in the future years.