Residents given chance to say what council priorities should be - as budget cuts bite

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

PEOPLE are being given the chance to say what they think their council should be spending their money on - as it faces ever dwindling budgets.

Hambleton District Council has launched a six-week long budget consultation exercise to find out what people think of the council’s current priorities, its council tax and its proposals to improve services and increase efficiency.

Residents and business owners in Hambleton are being invited to take part in the survey over the coming weeks.

Council leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said they had frozen council tax over the last four years and intended to freeze it again next year.

But financial support from central government to Hambleton council has reduced by nearly 40 per cent over the last few years and is likely to continue to dwindle.

North Yorkshire County Council is dealing with similar-sized budget cuts. Since 2011 the county has implemented and planned for cuts of about £170m, amounting to a reduction of about one third of the county’s spending power.

“Over the last few years we have faced significant financial pressures as a result of national austerity measures which have reduced the amount of Government support we receive,” said Cllr Robson.

“So far we have lost 38 per cent - £2.1million – and we will inevitably face further cuts as the government’s austerity measures continue.

“Councillors have already approved a financial strategy to take Hambleton forward over the next ten years and so far we have managed to deliver a balanced budget with little effect on frontline services.

“At the same time we are striving to achieve efficiency savings and keep council tax low.”

Cllr Robson said the survey would help the council establish what the public’s priorities would be and whether they would support an increase in council tax in future.

“We need to know what local people want us to focus on – what are their priorities going forward, and would they approve an increase in council tax to invest in services. We hope people will work with us going forward,” he added.

The consultation can be accessed online at hambleton.gov.uk/consultations/current-consultations

Consultation papers can also be collected from the council offices in Northallerton, Easingwold or Stokesley or the Springboard Business Centre, in Stokesley, or Evolution Business Centre, in Northallerton.

They must be completed and returned by Monday, October 20.

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