Concerns have been raised over a raft of £1.5 million cost-saving options up for debate by a council – including cuts to the information centre at Bury St Edmunds bus station.
St Edmundsbury Borough Council is consulting on a number of measures as it prepares its 2015/16 budget with several options for the information building at the bus station, which costs £249,000 a year to run.
They include reducing the opening hours, removing staff, offering the building to a business or community group to provide a service and charging for the toilets.
In a questionnaire to be sent to 3,000 households and available online, residents are being asked whether more volunteers should be used to help run services such as parks, open spaces and museums with fewer paid staff to save upto £40,000 a year.
The council is looking to change bin collections so brown bins are collected on a different day of the week – saving £150,000 a year. It is also considering organising different types of markets in addition to those held on a Wednesday and Saturday.
While council leaders said ‘we are all in this together’ at the launch of the consultation, concerns were raised in some quarters.
Independent borough councillor David Nettleton said: “The public should have been asked a wider range of questions. It’s limited horizons.”
He argued that the council should consider other options such as cutting its subsidy of The Apex.
On the issue of increased volunteers, Cllr Trevor Beckwith, an Independent, said: “You can’t keep calling on volunteers. Volunteers do a lot in this country, the county and borough but you can’t expect them to do what should be a full properly paid job.”
Green councillorJulia Wakelam said the bus station should be the subject of a separate consultation. She added: “The council should have grasped the nettle some years ago and increased some of its Council Tax. If you value services, you actually have to pay for them a bit more.”
Labour’s Diane Hind felt the consultation was ‘seeking justification for what has already been decided’ and there were ‘a lot of questions which weren’t asked’.
Cllr John Griffiths, leader of the council, said: “We are all in this together. We do not wish to see services disappear or compromise on quality – but the harsh reality is that they may have to be different in the future. I should stress that no decisions have yet been made – these are just some ideas for possible consideration.” Visit www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/budgetsurvey2014 – the closing date is August 22.