01 December 2009>
Caerphilly county borough council is thanking all the local people who took the time to complete a special survey recently as part of the authority's budget consultation process.
This was the largest consultation ever undertaken by the council and the general consensus by both officers and politicians indicates their appreciation for the sensible and helpful information provided by all those involved in the process. Those consulted included Councillors, members of the local Viewpoint Panel, Newsline readers (distributed to 80,000 households), council staff and Trade Unions.
The survey revealed that the main areas where respondents wished to increase spending on are:
- Schools (buildings, equipment and teachers)
- Adult Services within Social Services
- Children's Services within Social Services
And decrease spending on:
- Performance and Policy
- Information Communications Technology and Property
- Economic Development, Tourism and European Affairs
Director of Corporate Services, Nigel Barnett, said, "It is always important to reflect the value placed on the results of such an exercise. We are also aware that on occasions there can be scepticism regarding how the results of surveys eventually influence the decision making process. In this case, as the budget is developed in the next two to three months, we will look back at the survey results to ensure we are clearly bearing these in mind as we reach our conclusion."
"The Viewpoint Panel, both in the survey and in a special public meeting, had some very good suggestions about where we could improve our efficiencies, such as street lighting, asset management, reduction in events and publications. All of these are being considered and in some cases we have already taken the decision to reduce spending - such as the council's newspaper Newsline moving from ten editions to six from March 2010 onward.
"Managing the increase in energy costs is a key issue over the next few years and it featured strongly in many of the responses. We will be making strenuous efforts to cut back on our energy consumption, both to reduce our carbon footprint and to minimise our expenditure.
"The consultation also showed there was little appetite for a substantial increase in council tax with over 75% indicating their preference was to keep it below 3%. The recent WAG settlement for local government has made this attainable for 2010 -11, however this comes with a caution - in future years both the Welsh government and Central UK government are expecting local authorities to prepare for five years of challenging reductions in their budgets.
"As the Director responsible for delivering a balanced budget early in the new year I am very grateful for the time everyone has given to help shape the budget debate and I look forward to the council reaching its decision on the budget knowing the public and other key stakeholders have had the opportunity to contribute and influence the process," he added.
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