14 December 2010

Come and have your say on our budget proposals - that’s the message from Northamptonshire County Council to county residents today as its budget proposals are published.

The council published a range of proposals today to help the county face up to the huge cuts in government funding.

And with the council’s previous You Choose consultation carried out in the Spring becoming a key part in helping the council put together its proposals, it now wants to hear people’s views on what has been put forward.

Cabinet member for strategy, external relations and communications David Mackintosh said: “Thousands of people took part in the original You Choose consultation which took place in the Spring. This gave us a clear steer on what people’s priorities are and where they believed savings can be made.

“In many ways today’s proposals have been shaped by the comments we received. For example we can see the key area of roads which people told us were important has been protected and had its funding increased.

“However it is important that people take this opportunity to give us their feedback on the proposals we now have in front of us. We are aware that a lot of what has been proposed will be very painful - that’s the measure of the huge financial challenges we face - but if we work together as a county I am confident we will find the best way forward.

“We need to be honest with people about what exactly we are consulting on. What we are asking people therefore is not whether we need to make these cuts - this is not up for debate due to our funding cut from central government - but rather we want to hear people’s views on the way we are proposing to face up to the financial issues.

“And if people want us to reconsider a certain proposal then we need to be honest and say - OK if we keep this we’ll have to lose something else and then get views on what that could be.

“The county is in this together and we want to hear from as many people as possible on the proposals we have put forward.”

People are being offered a range of ways of having their say on the proposals:

  • A special section of the website for people to post comments on individual budget lines
  • A specific email address for people to send their comments to.
  • Standard forms available in libraries, through the customer service centre and other public buildings for people to write down their thoughts and send into the council.
  • Two Question Time type debates in the new year giving people the chance to quiz those making the decision.
  • Debates with community groups and focus groups to gauge their views.

Cllr Mackintosh said: “Early in the new year we will be announcing the details of the various debates taking place and letting people know how to register an interest to take part.

“These are some of the biggest decisions ever having to be made about public services in Northamptonshire. It is only right we open as many ways as possible for people to have their say.”