Wokingham Borough Council is asking residents to join in and have their say on the council’s budget at a series of public drop-in sessions next month (October 2015).
Taking place in five local areas, the community will have the chance to hear more about the council’s budget challenges and discuss its priorities in terms of what local people believe are the most important and least important areas that the council should focus its limited resources on.
Leader of the council Cllr Keith Baker said: "The past five years or so have been extremely difficult in terms of setting a balanced budget. We’ve worked hard during this time to ensure we’re as efficient as possible, and have made in excess of £31million savings since 2010 whilst protecting frontline services.
"However, we continue to face huge challenges as there is less and less public money available. If we are to set a robust and balanced budget next year and subsequent years as well, we have the extremely difficult task of having to decide where and how we save money by either reducing services or increasing our income. We are planning for another year of significant cuts in public sector funding which we estimate will cost us approximately £4million."
"To help us with this, we’re holding a number of engagement sessions, so we can talk to local people about the services they believe should be our priority. I hope anyone who is interested in how we spend our money will come along. All the information we gather will help guide our decisions to make sure we deliver the right services whilst setting a balanced budget."
The drop-in sessions, which run from 7pm to 9pm, take place on:
- Wednesday October 7, 2015 at The Salvation Army Hall, Chalfont Close, Lower Earley
- Monday October 19, 2015 at St Crispin’s School, London Road, Wokingham
- Thursday October 22, 2015 at Charvil Village Hall, The Hawthorns, off Park Lane, Charvil
- Monday October 26, 2015 at Finchampstead Memorial Hall, The Village, Finchampstead
- Wednesday October 28,2015 at The Oakwood Centre, Headley Road, Woodley
The council has an annual budget of £113million (2015/16) and the majority of its money is spent on statutory services - £90million (including adult social care, children’s services, waste collection and disposal, and highways). Some £23million is spent on non-statutory services such as leisure, parks and open spaces, and bus subsidies.
Almost 40 per cent of the budget each year is spent on adult social care (39 per cent); just over 20 per cent on children’s services and 11 per cent on waste and street care services.
The sessions will allow the borough council to get a better understanding of the priorities of those who live, work or do business in the borough and to discuss with the public where they think the borough council could make future savings. These views will be summarised and published later this year before the executive consider them as part of the budget decision-making process.
Participatory Budgeting presentation (PDF).