Taxpayers to have say on council's budget
Members of the public in Cornwall have been asked to have their say on how the council should spend its next budget, to help it meet the "stark challenges" it predicts lie ahead.
The meetings, which take place across the course of a month, have been designed to inform members of the public on the problems faced by the council in deciding how the budget should be spent, as well as a chance for ideas to be put forward.
Council portfolio advisory committees will meet in September and October to discuss how the budget for 2014-15 should be spent, with the budget coming to full council by the end of November.
Since 2010, the council has been forced to find savings of £170 million as a result of cuts in Government funding. A further £40 million is expected to be cut by 2016 and £100 million by 2018.
Cabinet member for finance and resources, Alex Folkes, said it was a chance to educate people about the scale of the problem the council is facing and the cuts it has to make.
He said: "We don't pretend we have got all the knowledge, people may well come up with ideas we haven't heard.
"We are facing some stark challenges. Many of our services are already under tremendous pressure to meet increasing demand with the reduced funds available to them. These future reductions in funding means we have to decide where to make the necessary cuts and how.
"While we will do our best to safeguard services for the most vulnerable and those on which local people most rely, the truth is that we will not be able to continue to do everything in the same way.
"This will mean having to make some very hard choices and we want to give people the chance to help us set the priorities for the future."
The last council was thrown in to disarray when Conservative backbenchers and the opposition Liberal Democrats defied a Cabinet recommendation to raise council tax by 2%, in favour of a freeze which led to a greater loss of service.
Conservative group leader, Fiona Ferguson, said the series of public meetings were an "incredibly inefficient" way of consulting people and predicted that there would be a low turn-out at most events.
She said: "There are all sorts of ways of doing things. The way the council consulted its staff on things under Kevin Lavery was to do a podcast. There are sorts of up-to-date ways of dealing with people."
She said she thought Mr Folkes had put an incredible effort in to the idea but questioned whether it was well directed.
She said: "During the last council we were criticised for strong leadership, now that the coalition between the Liberal Democrat and Independents that's drawn in Mebyon Kernow, Labour, UKIP, they may find it difficult to make the difficult decisions."
The public meetings are taking place between September 5 and October 9. For more information visit www.cornwall.gov.uk