Budget fails to stir up interest
SWINDON Council has received only 17 responses in a public consultation on the Conservative administration’s draft budget proposals, which aim to plug an estimated £16m gap in the 2013/14 budget.
In December, the cabinet revealed its draft budget proposals, which set out how it intends to deal with £4.7m in assumed reduced funding, £3.5m in inflation and £7.9m of other cost pressures, including increased demand for services, particularly caring services.
The document, which was out to public consultation until Friday, outlines £13.2m of savings.
But more measures to save a further £3m – £4m, including the axing of at least 50 more posts, are set to be identified in a report to be published this week.
The draft document, which was the subject of consultation, includes savings of just over £2m, year-on-year, from the deletion of 70 council posts before April, It also includes the removal of a £20,000 grant for the street outreach service provided by homelessness charity, Threshold Housing Link, a £70,000 cut to the community transport budget, the accelerated closure of three car parks, and a £2m reduction in the road resurfacing budget.
However, the council only received 17 responses from individuals and organisations in the consultation.
And council leader Rod Bluh said he did not receive any correspondence from the public on the proposals.
He said: “Because we’re getting this year-on-year freeze in council tax people have stopped taking interest.
He said the lack of engagement was not helpful to those who have to make the decisions almost in isolation.
“As politicians we’re having to make bigger and bigger decisions.
“Many of the decisions quite frankly we wouldn’t wish to be making. We’re doing the best we can to make the best of the situation – we’ve got to protect the vulnerable and help services.
“People should be more engaged because they need to understand the significance of what’s going to happen over the years to come.”