Exmouth urged to have their say ‘tough choices’

PUBLISHED: 10:40 11 November 2010

EXMOUTH residents get the chance in a unique public debate and quiz the leader of the county council on the spending cuts.

EXMOUTH residents get the chance in a unique public debate and quiz the leader of the county council on the spending cuts.

Tomorrow evening at 6.30pm at the Elizabeth Hall Councillor John Hart will answer questions on subjects the closing of Connexions in Exmouth.

It’s all part of the Tough Choices campaign by the county council – throughout the autumn, Cllr Hart has hosted a series of public meetings across Devon and the latest is in the county’s largest town.

Mr Hart said: “All public bodies are facing tough choices on how to reduce costs and save money.

“We want to make sure people in Devon get the most efficient and effective local services.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to join this debate.”

Last months Comprehensive Spending Review saw Whitehall departments slash their budget by up to 20 per cent.

Mr Hart said the county council had already saved £30 million over the past two years.

A jobs freeze had been imposed on all but essential front-line staff, the council’s departments had been streamlined, councillors’ allowances had been frozen and all workers were subject to the national pay freeze.

People attending the public meetings will be invited to play a special Devon board game with a breakdown of every penny the county council spends on the various services for residents.

They will be asked to reduce the total amount spent by a specific percentage.

Councillors and officials will be on hand to explain the implications of each suggested cut and what happens if some areas are safeguarded and bigger reductions made in other areas.

The process will give people the chance to see the kind of tough choices councillors will be facing as they prepare to set a budget next spring.

Mr Hart said: “We are not attempting to abdicate the duties we were elected to fulfil. “Ultimately we will take the tough decisions.

“But we want to spell out to as many people as possible what the options are, hear their views on what services we should safeguard and where they think we might make savings and how we could improve the way we work locally.”

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