Huge cuts to the council budget have prompted the launch of a public consultation to find out residents’ views on local council services and how they should be protected.
Flintshire County Council is currently preparing for between 1.5 per cent and 4.5 per cent cuts in its funding from Welsh Government for next year. At 1.5 per cent the Council would need to find savings of £12m to meet the budget gap. If the cut is as large as 4.5 per cent the gap grows by £6m and £18m will need to be found. The Council is looking to people who live in the County and use council-run services to find out whether they support the choices that will need to be made over the coming months.
The Big Budget Conversation is open to everyone and people will be able to feedback their views and opinions. Information will be made available on the cost of services and how much the Council contributes to those services.
Eventually choices will have to be made including prioritising some services over others, reducing or even stopping some services, expecting people to travel further for a service, expecting people to pay more where there is currently a charge and introducing new charges for services which are free. All the services the Council provides will come under scrutiny including education, social services, leisure services, libraries and waste collections.
Councillor Aaron Shotton, Leader of Flintshire Council said: “In the Big Budget Conversation we set out the growing risks to local services because of national budget cuts, and set the scene for the big choices Flintshire County Council will have to make for next year and the years to come.
“We also explain how and when we plan to open up those choices for public debate, and how local communities and local organisations might help plan the future with us. There are two opportunities for residents to join the conversation and it is important that everyone has their say.”
The first step will run from 18 August to 12 September and is designed for residents to tell the Council whether or not they support some of the choices that will need to be made in the future. This will include a live Twitter debate with the Leader of the Council, Cllr Aaron Shotton and Chief Executive, Colin Everett on 1 September.
The second part will happen in late Autumn when a series of public consultations are being planned to share options for the future and the budget choices. The dates and locations of these events will be widely publicised.
People can join the conversation by visiting www.flintshire.gov.uk/FCCBudget where they can also subscribe to the Council’s new emagazine www.flintshire.gov.uk/emagazine or follow the conversation on Twitter @FlintshireCC.
People can also give their views by completing a form available from libraries, Connects Centres or other council reception areas. The closing date for forms, on-line and by post is Friday 12 September 2014.
The outcomes of the conversation will be published later in the year on the Council’s website and in the Council’s e-magazine.