Do you or your family use council services, such as schools, transport or social care?
Through the media, Lincolnshire County Council has warned us that several years of austerity cuts will hit the services provided by our local authorities very hard.
Councils not only provide statutory and discretionary services but also support businesses, tourism and many projects.
So who decides what the priorities are? Ultimately, councils must balance conflicting demands, but what say do ordinary residents have?
Well, it looks like all we will get is about a month in January to examine the entirety of the county council’s budget intentions, which some people may feel are more or less decided already.
If the council feels generous, we might get to spend Christmas and the new year studying the documents.
Based on previous years, the consultation paperwork can be unfriendly – over complex yet vague and filled with jargon or specialised terms.
Then most services which are being cut or made more expensive to use will be consulted on later.
It is debatable how effective this step is, as consultation at this stage is largely tied to specific budgets and proposals. Did you notice the recent consultation on care charges?
While I have nothing to do with the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign, I find the county council’s attitude in the matter disturbing.
Is there to be a general “big society” shift into volunteer-run services or policing? Is the council contemptuous of residents who disagree with them?
Councillors and officers have known what is coming and have had months to plan options which can be fine-tuned when final government figures are announced shortly.
If you wish to have a proper say, I urge residents to make this clear to your councillors as soon as possible.