Council launches 2015-16 budget consultation

Public consultation has begun over the Labour run Bridgend County Borough Council’s plans to deliver a balanced budget in 2015-16.

The consultation starts today, Monday 6 October and ends on Monday 17 November and will ask local people for their views on how the council is proposing to deliver services and save money against a backdrop of diminishing local government resources.

Designed to give residents an opportunity to make their own alternative suggestions while answering a series of structured questions, the consultation will incorporate a number of community workshops and an easy-to-use ‘budget simulator’ tool. This will enable people to demonstrate how they would go about spending the council’s £255m budget, determine which services need to be prioritised and identify a savings target of £12.4m for the year.

Establishing areas where the £12.4m savings can be achieved will mean a proposed council tax increase of 4.8 per cent for 2015-16 – a figure which could be reduced if further savings can be identified.

People can take part in the 2015-16 budget consultation by visiting the consultation pages at the council’s website – www.bridgend.gov.uk/consultation – or attending one of the following community engagement workshops (please email consultation@bridgend.gov.uk to arrange your place):

  • Wednesday 29 October: Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen, 6pm.
  • Monday 3 November: Maesteg Comprehensive, 6pm.
  • Tuesday 4 November: Pencoed Comprehensive, 6pm.
  • Wednesday 5 November: Bridgend College, 6pm.
  • Tuesday 11 November: Cynffig Comprehensive, 6pm.

Residents can also pick up a copy of the consultation at their local library or life centre and use publically available IT facilities to fill it in online or to access the budget simulator.

The consultation’s launch follows a recent financial update which suggests that Bridgend County Borough Council will need to meet a likely funding shortfall of almost £50m between now and 2018-19.

The Leader Cllr Mel Nott OBE said: “This is an extremely difficult time for local government. Councils across Wales are facing unprecedented challenges in the face of reduced Government funding and increased demands on essential services.

“We are actively finding new ways of delivering services, providing better outcomes for residents and using our Medium Term Financial Strategy to achieve savings that will ensure we can produce a realistic, balanced budget, but it is not an easy process, and we all need to be completely realistic about the situation before us.

“There are going to be some aspects of council services that the authority may no longer be able to provide, and finding different ways to meet the future needs of individuals, families and communities is not always going to be popular.

“But this is the harsh reality of the situation that we now face, and it’s why we want local people to take part in this consultation, and help inform the difficult decisions that will need to be taken.”

Chief Executive Darren Mepham added: “We want to ensure that local citizens can play an active role in shaping our plans for delivering services and making savings in 2015-16, and I hope that as many people as possible take part in this important consultation, especially as it will ask residents for their own ideas and suggestions.

“Setting a multi-million pound budget is not an easy task, so we’ll be using a budget simulator in both the formal consultation and at the community workshops to give people a better idea of what the process entails and to enrich the quality of their feedback.

“This will help inform the difficult decisions that need to be taken in setting the council’s budget for 2015-16 as we strive to save money, improve efficiency and protect essential council services.”

For more information about the budget consultation, call (01656) 643664 or email consultation@bridgend.gov.uk

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