Residents have their say on council spending plans

November 29, 2018

RESIDENTS, businesses and voluntary organisations in Tamworth have had their say on the council’s spending priorities as part of the 2019/20 budget setting process.

Earlier this year, Tamworth Borough Council invited people living and working in the borough to share their views and make clear their choices on where – and how – money should be spent.

Consultation on the key issues affecting the 2019/20 budget was carried out through the Tamworth Borough Council Citizens Panel, the Tenant Consultative Group and online and paper surveys aimed at residents, businesses and tenants.

The consultation ran from August 1 to September 14 and attracted a total of 168 responses, made up of 154 residents, 3 businesses and 11 community and voluntary organisations.

The results have now been collated in a Budget Consultation report which went before the council’s Cabinet on Thursday, November 8. The views put forward will now help inform key budgeting decisions for the year ahead.

As part of the survey, people were asked for their views on spending in 12 of the council’s major cost areas and whether they believe this should be increased, decreased or maintained at the same level.

Most people thought spending should be maintained at current levels in 10 of the 12 major cost areas.

Tackling anti-social behaviour is the main area where people think more money should be spent, with 50% citing this is as their priority for increased spending, followed by parks, open spaces and street cleaning (37%) and improving the economic, physical, social and environmental condition of Tamworth (34%).

The cost areas which came out on top for spending to remain the same included refuse collection and recycling (63%), parks, open spaces and street cleaning (52%), and housing advice, grants and homelessness (52%).

‘Improved access to information/customer service’ had the largest number of responses for reduced spending with 51%.

When respondents were asked which services should be looked at if the council had to reduce costs, the most popular areas listed were improved access to information/customer services (56%), followed by voluntary sector commissioning (40%) and voluntary sector grants (37%). The areas where they would least like to see savings made were refuse collection and recycling (4%), tackling anti-social behaviour (7%) and parks, open spaces and street cleaning (8%).

People were also asked where they think the council could or should increase public charges, with ‘leisure and other activities’ coming out on top at 57%, followed by public spaces (53%).

Car parking charges came out as the preferred income area for a reduction in charges (65%), followed by commercial property (43%).

When asked what would be considered an acceptable level of Council Tax increase for 2019/20, 44% of residents preferred the lowest level of increase at 0.6% (based on a Band D property), 26% chose option B of 2% and 15% would support a 3% increase, which is still below the average level of increase witnessed for all authorities across the Midlands.

Cllr Rob Pritchard, Deputy Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said: “It is really important that the residents, businesses and voluntary organisations of this town play a part in determining the council’s spending plans and we put this out to consultation every year. We know that people have strong views on where the council should spend its limited funds and getting involved in the Budget Consultation ensures these views can be heard and considered as part of the actual budget setting process. The council often has to make difficult decisions on whether to increase income or reduce service costs.

“The views and feedback submitted help us to form our spending priorities for the coming year and help determine how these important decisions are made on behalf of the people of Tamworth. We are always very grateful to those who take the time to give us their views.

“A good number took part this year, but we would like to see lots more people getting involved in future consultations. We promoted it through local press, social media, our website, ‘Open House’ newsletter, plus direct correspondence to our citizens’ panel, businesses and voluntary sector organisations where possible, but we are looking at how we can further increase engagement going forward.”

The Budget Consultation report can be read in full here.

Details of all Tamworth Borough Council consultations are published at www.tamworth.gov.uk/consultation where people can also find out how to join the Citizens Panel. The panel is made up of local residents who we ask about local services. Members are contacted around three or four times a year and may be asked to take part in surveys, discussion groups or workshops.