The findings from Wokingham Borough Council’s Budget Engagement sessions are now available online.
During October, residents had the opportunity to attend five engagement sessions across the borough where they heard details of the borough council’s difficult financial position and to give their views on how the authority should prioritise its spending.
Students attending the Wokingham Borough Careers Fair and people attending the Black History Month Taster and Performance Evening also had a chance to give their views and an online survey was run during the engagement.
The findings showed a strong support for the priority of funding protection of vulnerable adults and children and also for investing in prevention service – those that those that keep people fit, healthy and reduce isolation and the risk of physical / mental health problems. The lesser supported priorities were keeping our borough clean and tidy, maintaining our existing libraries and supporting sport, leisure and countryside services for all. There was also some support for increased fees and charges to protect services.
Although the findings represent the views of only a small proportion of the borough’s residents, they will be considered by senior council officers and members as they think about what changes to investigate further. The first example of this is in waste and recycling, where the findings suggest there might be some appetite for change and so some additional consultation work is being undertaken. It is important to note that no significant service changes will be made without a full public consultation on them.
Leader of Wokingham Borough Council Cllr Keith Baker said: "I'd like to thank everybody who came to one of the sessions or took part in our budget engagement in other ways. We have very difficult funding decisions to make and it is important that we have information about residents’ attitudes as we make those decisions.
"This is the second year we have run budget engagement events and we had many more people take part, which is encouraging and we will build on this in future years to ensure we continue to involve residents in the decisions that affect them most. The budget sessions do not give us all the answers but they do provide a useful indication of attitudes that can be explored further."
In total about 110 people took part in the Budget Priorities activity at the open sessions, about 50 people took part in the activity at the Taster and Performance Evening and about 350 people took part in the activity at the Wokingham Careers Fair. The findings are all available for view on our consultation page.