Don’t miss the chance to have your say on council’s budget plans
23 November 2016
As Bridgend County Borough Council’s major public consultation over its future budget plans reaches its conclusion, the county borough’s youngest citizens are being asked to have their say too.
Running alongside the ‘Shaping Bridgend’s Future’ online survey at www.bridgend.gov.uk/future, a simplified version has also been produced which is aimed at school-aged youngsters.
Both surveys will be open until Thursday 1 December, inviting local people to comment on several proposals that the council is putting forward to help make significant financial savings and deal with the challenges of diminishing local government resources.
Since 2012, the council has already covered a funding shortfall of more than £30m, but over the next four years the council expects to have to make further savings of £37m.
Among the proposals for how the local authority can continue to deliver important services while making substantial savings is an idea to save half a million pounds in energy costs by moving to a new street lighting system.
Further proposals include carrying out more road repairs during the daytime, and reviewing how parks and playing fields are supported.
The survey also asks whether Bridgend County Borough Council should continue to subsidise primary school meals or should parents pay a bit more to cover costs?
For example, increasing the charge to parents by just 10p per meal from £2.10 to £2.20 would save the council around £50k per year.
The survey also looks at some potential ideas for generating income, such as whether the council should consider property investment opportunities around the UK which could be used to help raise more funds to provide local services.
Councillor Hywel Williams, the council’s Deputy Leader, said: “Bridgend County Borough Council provides hundreds of different services for around 140,000 residents living across the county borough. The population is increasing and living longer while ongoing funding shortfalls mean that we expect to have to make further budget savings of around £37m by 2020.
“This is a hugely significant amount of money, but we have already achieved recurrent savings of more than £30m by disposing of surplus council assets, reducing some services and setting up partnerships to run our arts and culture venues, libraries, leisure centres and swimming pools.
“Now we want to try and reflect as many residents’ wishes as possible as we determine where we are going to focus our spending in 2017-18, and how we are going to cover the remaining £37m funding shortfall.
“Council tax raises £67m, but this forms only a small part of the council’s overall annual budget. To put it in perspective, we spend £87m on education, £40m on adult social care and £17m on safeguarding and family support services alone.
“There are no obvious or easy answers, but our aim is to protect essential services, support those who are most in need, and spend money as wisely, efficiently and as effectively as we can. I hope that residents will work with us as we seek to achieve all of this.”
The deadline for completing the consultation is Thursday 1 December, and everyone aged 16+ who fills in the online survey at www.bridgend.gov.uk/future will receive a free seven-day pass to a Halo leisure centre, plus all survey participants (of any age) will stand the chance of winning other prizes including panto tickets. Please note that terms and conditions apply.
Printed copies of the survey are available at local libraries and alternative formats are available on request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01656 643664.