Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cornwall's budget - have your say

This morning I have announced a series of public consultation events to encourage Cornish residents, businesses and visitors to have their say on budget proposals for next year.

The next few years will be no ordinary times. The council has to save up to £40 million next year and up to £100 million over the next four years. This cannot be done by making changes in administration and back office staff alone. There will have to be cuts to services as well. So the council wants to hear from Cornwall as to where they think savings can be made and which services they want to see preserved at all costs.

The initial budget proposals are being worked on at the moment. These will be made public on September 2nd. For the rest of September and early October, I and my colleagues will be going to every part of Cornwall to ask for views. We will be holding 19 public meetings as well as dedicated meetings with town and parish councils, businesses and our staff. We will also be holding a webinar - a conversation over the internet - and launching an online consultation tool called 'YouChoose' in early October.

I can't pretend that we will be able to accommodate every view and suggestion. But we will listen to everyone and consider every idea we hear.

Where possible, we will continue to make savings in back office functions. But we should not pretend that we can save all the money needed in this way. So far - through the change to unitary status and changes to the way we deliver services - Cornwall is saving about £159 million in back offices compared with only £11 million being saved from front line services. But we cannot do this again and so the axe will fall on the front line and we need to make sure that we are saving those services that people in Cornwall feel are the most valuable.

On the radio this morning, it was suggested that the council was being weak because we were asking people for their views rather than simply imposing our will on them. That might have been the way that some within the previous administration liked to do things, but it is not how the new Lib Dem/Independent partnership wants to work. We believe that we are hear to work for and with the people of Cornwall, not to let dogma (or party central offices) dictate what we do.

The public meetings, all of which will begin at 6.30 pm, are being held at:

Thursday, 5 September             St Austell - Old Restormel offices, Penwinnick Road
Friday, 6 September                  Perranzabuloe Parish Rooms
Monday, 9 September               Alexander Hall, St Blazey
Wednesday, 11 September        Launceston Town Hall
Thursday, 12 September           Shire House Suite, Bodmin 
Friday, 13 September                Wadebridge Council Offices, Higher Trenant
Monday, 16 September             St Pinnock Village Hall, near Liskeard
Tuesday, 17 September             Pool Innovation Centre
Thursday, 19 September           St John’s Hall, Penzance
Friday, 20 September                Helston Town Hall
Monday, 23 September             Roche Victory Hall
Wednesday, 25 September        St Germans Community Centre
Friday, 27 September                Millennium House, Pensilva
Monday, 30 September             Newquay Treviglas Community College
Wednesday, 2 October              Falcon Hotel, Bude
Thursday, 3 October                 Mabe Village Hall
Friday, 4 October                      Council Chamber, County Hall, Truro
Monday 7 October                    Frank Johns Centre, Hayle
Wednesday, 9 October              Clease Hall, Camelford

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