Co-founder and life president Community Links Kevin Jenkins asks whether residents will forget the needs of the community
- Credit: Archant
I read with some interest, that the mayor will be asking residents which services they want to see stay, change or close.
This is in preparation for the mayor and council making unprecedented cuts in services during the remaining three years of their current term of office to meet the spending limits imposed on them by central government.
While I welcome all initiatives to increase the involvement of residents in local democracy and decision making, I do question how effective or helpful the particular exercise will be in achieving a strategic view.
Inevitably individuals will put forward pleas to keep services that are important to them, rather than what is important for the community overall. The absence of detailed information to assist residents in making suggestions will further fuel this approach.
Both making suggestions of what should go or stay, I would want reassurance from the mayor that due consideration has been given to all other options including alternative delivery structures, income generation options and so on.
I would respectively urge the mayor to further develop his welcome commitment to involving residents in determining priorities by establishing a ‘Peoples Budget Panel’. This panel of 50 residents convened annually across all political, cultural and community interests would consider in detail the views of residents received through the mayors initiatives and all the actions taken to bridge the funding gap along with all the key dates. This would create an overall strategic list of suggestions to be made to the mayor, which meet the borough’s needs rather than a list based on who shouts the loudest. More from Kevin