Ellie Chowns says:
I’ve been asking some pointed questions about the council’s recent budget consultation. In particular, I’m frustrated that there was no consultation on the capital budget. This is where Hfds Council currently has quite a lot of ‘wiggle room’, given that it recently made nearly £50m from selling off the farms. Only half that money has so far been allocated, so what is the Cabinet planning to do with the rest? I believe local residents should have a real say in this decision. This is a once-in-a-generation windfall, so we should think REALLY CAREFULLY about how to spend it, and the Cabinet should consult local people on what the priorities should be. I don’t think enough people understand the opportunities and risks here – the council has not communicated openly about this at all.
You can read my full response to the budget consultation process here.
I’ve also asked the Council Leader, (Jonathan Lester) and the Cabinet Member for Finance (Nigel Shaw) for answers to five questions I asked them at the full council meeting a couple of weeks ago:
1. Why was virtually no information given to residents about the capital budget in the recent consultation process?
2. When will residents (and councillors) be consulted on the capital budget?
3. Why were councillors’ suggestions for improvements to the consultation design (such as the inclusion of open-ended questions), made at the budget consultation briefing in July, ignored – even though assurance was given to us at the time that they would be acted upon?
4. Will the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance commit to giving councillors much more opportunity to feed into consultation design in future?
5. Will the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance commit to giving residents much more opportunity to participate in the budgeting process in future?