Senior councillors at Warwickshire County Council say they have had good feedback during their “conversation” with the public about how to shave £90 million of the council’s budget.
But the more people who speak to them, the better, is the main message they have been promoting on a county-wide roadshow during which they took time to speak to people on a one-to-one basis.
The last of these took place today (Friday). Speaking to the Courier at the Leamington roadshow, which took place at the Royal Priors on Tuesday morning, council leader Cllr Izzi Seccombe said: “You can talk to people here who at a public meeting would not feel they had a voice to say things.
“This is about awareness raising. We need people to understand what’s happening.
“We have just been through three years where we have saved £60 million and we now have another three years where we have to save £90 million. That means we have to save a quarter of what we spend now. We cannot possibly retain the services that people will be used to.”
And making the saving hinges, Cllr Seccombe was keen to emphasise, on increasing the county council’s share of council tax by two per cent (on average 44p per week per household) - otherwise, the council would have to find an additional £18 million of savings.
Deputy leader Cllr Les Caborn said that feeback so far has indicated that people’s main priorities appear to be spending on education, fire and rescue, community safety and adult social care.
The other areas the council manages are children’s service, transport and environment, business and economy, public health, council support and public engagement and libraries and culture.
Cllr Caborn said: “People are genuinely interested in talking to us. They are not used to us going out to talk to them. But people in general do find it difficult to know how they as individuals would change services to balance the budget.”
Cllr Seccombe said she is aware that she cannot say that she will be able to spare any services from cuts, adding: “The budget has to be announced in February and we plan to have a draft budget ready in December.
“This task is never going to get easier. It would be the same for whoever is sitting in my seat. We have to get on, we have to set a budget for the council and we cannot have a deficit.”
The county council is inviting people to take part in its survey, which must be submitted by November 15, although emails will still be accepted after that date.
Visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/letstalk or email firstname.lastname@example.org