THE people of Suffolk are being challenged to say how they want the county to spend their money.
As Suffolk County Council starts planning next year’s budget, it has launched a Budget Challenge asking residents what to keep and cut.
Launching the consultation on Monday, Suffolk County Council’s leader Mark Bee, said: “The financial challenges we are facing are significant, but I’m determined that we must find a way to meet them while protecting the services we all value.
“I won’t pretend that difficult decisions won’t have to be made. But I want to ensure that the choices we make reflect not just my views, or those of other councillors, but the values of the people we are here to serve.”
The public, businesses, the voluntary sector and district and borough councils in Suffolk are being asked what services they value most to help the council decide where to make necessary savings.
The county’s grant from central government has been cut by 28 per cent so it has to save £50m in the next two years, on top of £43m saved in the current financial year.
Key services run by the county council include adult social care, child protection, fire and rescue and roads maintenance.
The consultation will be in two phases: until October 23 it focuses on broader questions of people’s priorities, then, from November 1 to December 12 it will give the opportunity to express views on proposals resulting from the first phase. The final budget will be agreed by the full council on February 9.
Suffolk’s deputy leader and portfolio holder for resource management Jane Storey said: “We see this as a real opportunity for people to influence the biggest decision we have to make in local government — how we spend public money.
“Our priority is to protect the most valued frontline services whilst keeping council tax down. This is a time for listening and working together to overcome the financial challenges we face.”
All those taking part are entered in a draw to win £250 for their favourite Suffolk charity. The consultation website is at www.suffolk.gov.uk/wearelistening and forms are available in libraries, or people can contact their county councillor.