More than 3,500 people have had their say on Notts County Council’s budget plans.
The authority is battling to bridge a £154 million budget gap it says has been made by damaging Government cuts in funding for local services.
A total of 3,575 people have so far taken part in the county council’s budget challenge, with 480 of them responding to the 51 proposals the council has made to save money.
The proposals would see the council’s running costs cut by £83 million through cuts to services, 750 job losses, increasing some charges, reducing some grants to other organisations, improving efficiency, sharing services with other councils and better use of technology.
The largest response to an individual proposal has been to the level of Council Tax increase people would support.
So far 53 per cent prefer a 1.99 per cent increase, 22 per cent prefer a three per cent increase, six per cent prefer a 4 per cent increasae and 19 per cent prefer a five per increase - adding 97p a week extra on the average bill.
The proposal which has received the greatest endorsement so far is for a reduction in the Councillors’ Divisional Fund, which local members use to support good causes in their area.
Plans to increase the amount charged every three years for renewing Blue Badges from £2 to £10 and renegotiate the waste management contract have also received early support, according to the council.
The greatest opposition has been to proposed changes to employment services for people with learning difficulties and reductions in the Supporting People budget.
Councillor Alan Rhodes, leader of Notts County Council, said: “After years of austerity, the last thing people want to hear about is more cuts to Council services but it is important that we have an open and honest conversation with local people about the situation we’ve been put in by unrelenting Government cuts and seek their views on how we should minimise their impact.”
“Unless there is a radical change in Government policy, the next few years look extremely bleak. Based on current estimates, a further £70million still needs to be cut, on top of these proposals.”
“When drawing up our plans we’ve tried to apply fairness in difficult times and avoid an impact on the most vulnerable as far as we possibly can, but I appreciate that is little consolation for those service users and employees who are affected - and for that I am deeply sorry.”
“To have over 3,500 responses to the Budget Challenge already is testament to how much people care about and value their services. This is a genuine consultation - we want to hear how people are likely to be affected and about viable alternatives to any of the service reductions.
“As well as commenting on our proposals, I would urge people to join us in campaigning for a Fair Deal for Notts by sending a message to the Government that their cuts - which are even more severe in less affluent areas like Notts - are unfair, unsustainable and unacceptable.”
To read all the budget proposals and register your views, go to the website www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget or join the debate at Facebook/Nottinghamshire and Twitter @nottscc using the hashtag #NottsBudget
You can register for email updates about the budget and the Budget Challenge consultation at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/emailme
Budget Challenge booklets, including summaries of the proposals and a chance to return your comments, will be available at all Nottinghamshire libraries by 25th November. You can also request a copy by calling the customer service centre on 0300 500 80 80.
The consultation closes on 17th January and will be considered by Full Council on 27th February.