People power to decide cuts

Brentwood’s residents are being told by the council ‘we want you to tell us where the axe should fall’ as it faces the biggest servives shake-up for decades.

Council leader Louise McKinlay has said it is ‘vital’ for everyone to step up and have a say as officials wrestle with George Osborne’s spending review and the resulting 7.1 per-cent budget cut.

At the first of two public events unveiled this week, residents were invited to give their views on the future of the Town Hall, which could be bulldozed or sold off.

At a second event in December more residents will be able to put their views as to what services should be targeted for cuts and should be saved.

Cllr McKinlay said: “The two events we have organised for residents are part of our ongoing commitment to engage and involve local people in the Council’s work.

This is a crucial time and we want to make sure residents are properly informed and feed back their views as we move forward and make the right decisions to be able to still deliver the best frontline services.”

Speaking to the Recorder after the spending review Cllr McKinlay said there would be significant changes to the way services are delivered but vowed to protect some services from the knife, and highlighted weekly bin collections.

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Brentwood Town Hall, said to be too large and rundown after years of neglect, could be now sold off for development with services delivered from elsewhere in the town.

An open surgery session will take place at the Town Hall on November 30 from 6.30pm, and Brentwood residents are urged to attend.

The second event on December 1 from 6-8pm is a residents’ roundtable to discuss the initial findings from the Your Brentwood Your Budget consultation and is open to residents who stated an interest to take part in focus groups on the first stage consultation form.

Council McKinlay said: “In the lead up to the announcement of the new budget in February 2011 the Your Brentwood Your Budget consultation has been vital in allowing residents play a part in identifying their priorities and helping the council to shape the borough.”

But Lib Dem leader David Kendall said while he supported consulting residents over issues he said the process has come across like a slipshod box ticking exercise.

He added: “It’s important for residents to be consulted but it is also important for them to be able to make informed choices based on the full facts, which have been lacking from this consultation process.”

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