Portfolio holder, Cllr Ian Thomas, and a senior officer, gave presentations to last night’s overview and scrutiny committee meeting about the parlous state of the council’s finances.  They outlined the measures that the council was taking to try and cut costs.

Measures include:
– a budget working party being set up and being charged with saving £1.5m over the next three years
– the asset management forum ordered to make £50k of savings/create additional income
– fees and charges task and finish forum responsible for saving £50k

The committee was given lists of mandatory and discretionary services within each portfolio and their associated costs.

I asked Cllr Thomas whether there were plans to get residents to give their views on what services they valued most, relating to discretionary services.

Cllr Thomas replied that this information was already known through national surveys and it was rubbish collection that was most important to people.

I argued that rubbish collection was a mandatory service and I was talking about discretionary services. I added that he was referring to a national survey and there may be different results from a local survey, in any case.

Cllr Tim Wood said that councillors could ask residents views if they wished.
I made a proposal that EDDC formally seek residents views before agreeing on any budget cuts.

Cllr Mike Allen said he was sympathetic to the idea to involving residents but more information was required first. He also suggested studying the recent residents survey, carried out by EDDC officers.

I amended my proposal to accommodate the requirement for more information first and so my proposal to involve the public in planning future services and budget cuts was supported.

I asked whether the letter had been sent that I had proposed (and got agreement for) at an overview and scrutiny committee in early July. The letter proposed making protestations to central government about the swingeing budget cuts to public services.

Cllr Tim Wood replied that it had not yet been sent, due to it having to go to cabinet, but would be sent within the next two weeks.