Record numbers take part in public budget consultations

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MORE than 3,000 people had their say on how council money should be spent as part of the most recent public budget consultation.

Portsmouth residents were asked for their views on how the budget should be allocated, what services were most valued and whether council tax should increase.

The number of those who took part were almost double that of previous years with 1,689 respondents in 2017 and 1,289 in 2016.

Portsmouth City Council’s leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, explained how the feedback will influence future spending. ‘It is vital that we get residents’ views on how we allocate our funds, it is their money we are spending so we have to know what they think is important,’ he said.

‘We have been using the information everyone has given to us to develop our budget proposals and will be sharing them publicly as soon as they are finalised.

‘We took a different approach to this year’s consultation by trying to present the budget in a way residents could relate to. We also held a series of new events with members of the cabinet and council officers taking the survey out to people in places like supermarkets and leisure centres to try to engage a broader range of people and it has worked really well.’

He added: ‘I am absolutely delighted with the number of people who have taken part in our budget consultation. As an administration we are extremely grateful for every single view given and I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the survey.’

In line with councils across the country, Portsmouth is facing a further reduction in the grant it gets from the government, meaning there is less money to pay for public services.

The council needs to save £4m from its revenue budget in the next financial year as part of a total £12m savings needed in the coming three years. This is in addition to £77m savings the council has had to make in the last eight years.

Budget proposals will be published ahead of the full council meeting on December 11 where councillors will vote on the authority’s budget for 2019 and 2020.

The public survey closed on October 28.