Councillors turn to online consultation for cuts ideas

PEOPLE in Leeds are being urged to help the city council respond to significant financial challenges, by identifying where cuts could potentially be made.

As a result of the Government's comprehensive spending review in October, Leeds City Council leaders think they will have to save about 150m over the next four years.

Councillors expect to have 90m less to spend next year alone because of the need to make some of the biggest savings early on.

Officials have been seeking residents; views about what services are important. So far, more than 1,000 people have filled in questionnaires.

The consultation, which began last month, is being carried out to help civic leaders determine future spending plans.

Initial responses suggest many want the council to prioritise services for vulnerable people "above everything else".

Many are also in favour of bringing services together and for the council to make better use of buildings "even if that meant services had to move elsewhere".

They also suggest not providing any free events in future, reducing the frequency of bin collections, cutting the amount of money the council distributes in grants and ending overlapping services.

The consultation document makes the scale of the challenge perfectly clear. It says: "150m is enough money – although not possible – to pay 200 to every person living in Leeds.

"Saving this much money, even over four years, means some tough decisions will have to be made."

Councillor Keith Wakefield, council leader, said: "I'm delighted with the number of responses so far – but there's still time to get involved in this consultation.

"As I've said before, this is not just a token effort. We want to know how people think services should be prioritised in future.

"I'm also keen to get a better understanding of what the city's residents think the council could stop doing altogether.

"There are thousands of people who use the services we provide each day and I'd encourage them to take part and have their say."

The questionnaire can be filled in online by following the link on www.leeds.gov.uk/spendingchallenge.

The deadline for responses is next Friday.

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