GRAHAM TURNER: Consultation avoids the ‘big’ question

A personal view
A personal view
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My heart sinks each time a council starts ‘consulting’ on the next tranche of cuts and/or efficiencies it says it must make to balance the books.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is currently going through that process with a questionnaire inviting residents to give their opinion on a variety of options ranging from out-and-out service cuts, like closing the information desk in the bus station, to supposed money-making schemes such as holding more markets or dabbling in property development.

It wouldn’t be fair to give my opinion on any of these proposals because I do not live in St Edmundsbury – my own district council would struggle to cut the services it provides in my village because they’re non-existent anyway – but I do rather despair at the ‘dishonesty’ by omission. For example, I’m astounded that the first question on the survey is not: “Would you be prepared to pay a small increase in Council Tax to maintain services at their current level?”

I’m probably in a small minority, but I’ve never complained about paying taxes – local or national – it’s part of living in a civilised society. The disappointment comes when those taxes aren’t used wisely.

I also get cross when councils (or companies) use the term ‘savings’ or ‘cost-efficiencies’ when what is really meant is redundancies, people losing their jobs.

I was, however, surprised to learn that the bus station office is run by the council. I supposed that the bus companies whose passengers benefit from the facilities would have footed the bill.

To be fair to St Edmundsbury, unlike many similar questionnaires, theirs does give space for residents to comment and to give further suggestions for saving money – they’ll make interesting reading! Perhaps you could let me know what you’ll be writing – graham.turner@buryfree press.co.uk

-- My regard for humankind fell a little (further) this week when my daughter came a bit of a cropper on her bike on the way home from work. Nothing major, but with the chain wedged in the axle, she couldn’t make any progress. Slight and young, she’s not exactly threatening, but not one person on the busy cycle route stopped to ask if they could help.