Weather Icon 0.2°C Clear
Residents’ top council budget priorities revealed
Sunday 3rd December 2017 @ 17:14 by Adam Higgins
Derbyshire News

Repairing the county’s roads and improving social care for vulnerable people are top priorities for residents, according to Derbyshire County Council’s recent budget consultation.

The consultation was launched at the end of September and residents were asked to complete a survey asking which council services were important to them and where they would spend the most money for 2018-19 and where they would spend less if they held the purse strings.

It comes as the county council has to make cuts of £22m next year.

A total of 6,043 Derbyshire residents completed the consultation survey – more than ever before.

The majority of people took the survey online, with the council using Facebook and Twitter to promote it to all ages across the county. The availability of a paper copy in Derbyshire libraries was also promoted in the council magazine Derbyshire Now and by other means and a total of 59 people gave their views this way.

The survey was made up of five main questions, with three questions asking people to select their answers from options given and two allowing people to give more detailed responses.

The areas which people were asked to consider in the survey included:

• Unlocking economic growth
• Repairing and improving Derbyshire’s roads
• Keeping children and adults safe
• Investing in employment and skills
• Supporting library services
• Promoting Derbyshire as a global cultural and tourist destination
• Encouraging healthy lifestyles
• Improving accessibility in rural communities

Repairing and improving the condition of Derbyshire’s roads and improving social care for vulnerable people came out as top priorities where people would spend the most money if they were in charge of the council’s budget.

Also high on the list were services to keep children and adults safe, working efficiently and effectively, helping children and young people get the best start and investing in employment and skills.

Promoting Derbyshire as a global cultural and tourist destination and encouraging healthy lifestyles were areas where people would spend less money if they were in charge.

Derbyshire County Council Leader, Councillor Barry Lewis, said: “It was really important to us to gather as many views as possible from Derbyshire residents and we can use this information to help us build a really clear picture of people’s priorities.

“We’ve done the consultation differently this year, placing a lot more emphasis on social media, and this has really paid off with the huge response we have had. Analysis is on-going into all the views and they will all help to shape how the council’s budget for 2018-19 is spent.

“We want to make sure we’re reflecting what people tell us they want and need and I’d like to thank the thousands of people who took the time to fill in the survey.”

As well as asking Derbyshire residents about where they would spend the budget if they were in charge, the survey also asked people how much of an increase in council tax they would be willing to pay.

A total of 41 per cent said they would be willing to pay an increase of between one and two per cent, 20 per cent said they would pay an increase of three to four per cent and nine per cent responded to say they would pay an increase of more than four per cent. A total of 30 per cent of people said they would not be willing to pay any increase in council tax.

The area with the most residents responding was High Peak, where 1,063 people (18 per cent) completed the survey.

The council say that analysis is being carried out in to the more detailed comments people were able to leave as part of the survey and all the information gathered will be used to help draft a report which will be considered by the council’s Cabinet and then Full Council in the new year.