QUESTIONS were fired at the leader of a council in the first of a series of public consultations on how to save money.
Portsmouth City Council has revealed it will need to save at least another £11m in 2016/2017 after already having to claw back £13.1m in this financial year.
We do face a lot of challenges and this is where we want to hear what people have to sayCouncillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
The first meeting that aimed to find out from people what services they value and how much they might be willing to pay for them took place last night.
The meeting was held in Springfield School, in Central Road, Drayton, where a presentation outlining the city council’s financial challenges were outlined.
A consultation document has 18 questions on a range of council expenditure such as bus service subsidies. Each topic comes with a key explaining how much the service costs.
After that there are options underneath on whether the service should remain as it is, see a reduction in money, be cut or be kept and funded through an increase in council tax.
One question asked was how the council came up with the consultation document.
Leader of the council Donna Jones said: ‘There are some savings that can be made, such as contract renegotiations which we can do and it makes sense to do it, so there’s no point in consulting the public.
‘Also these changes would mean saving money but not a reduction in the services a person would have.
‘However we do face a lot of challenges and this is where we want to hear what people have to say.
‘So should school crossing patrol wardens still be paid out of the council’s budget, or do we follow other authorities and get schools to pay from their government funding?
‘Or would people like more investment in that area – these are the things we want to know.’
Speaking after the two-hour meeting Wendy Smullen, who is part of the Drayton and Farlington neighbourhood forum, said the session wasn’t advertised well enough.
She said: ‘It was extremely beneficial but I don’t think it was advertised properly, otherwise more people would have been here.
‘Having consultations like this is the way forward, people have to be involved.’
Residents are being asked questions on a range of issues including the future of libraries, community centres, money for bus services and theatres, school crossing patrols and providing a heating allowance to those with poor health.
The other meetings take place at these dates and times:
n Thursday at Portsmouth Guildhall from 7pm.
n Thursday, October 1, a business breakfast meeting at Portsmouth Guildhall from 8.30am.
n Mary Rose School, Wednesday, October 14, at Mary Rose School from 7pm.