AS many readers will already be aware, North Tyneside Council is currently in a consultation period about its 2012-15 strategic plan and budget proposals.
This is an important document as it sets the future direction of the organisation and how it spends the money provided by tax payers on delivering services over the next three years.
Like every member of the public, business and council around the country we need to work within the global economic climate and prioritise how we spend our reduced resources over the coming years in order to help the nation’s finances.
I know the public will understand this situation from their own experiences.
For the council this means having to achieve efficiencies of £47.5m over four years.
During the last financial year we have already managed to achieve £16m of savings without impacting on services, but to meet the challenge we now have to go further. There is no escaping this fact.
Facing up to this challenge has meant that my cabinet and I have had to take some very difficult decisions in putting forward the budget proposals.
This will inevitably result in significant changes to how the council delivers services and what it is able to do.
The public have always asked me to be honest and upfront with them about the challenges we face.
So I want them to work with the council to make these decisions. We would encourage alternative solutions they may wish to suggest.
There is also an opportunity for the different political groups to put forward their own alternative plans to achieve the efficiencies and priorities for the future during the decision making process.
I am hopeful that this is an opportunity for us all to work constructively together.
My cabinet and I are open to alternative ideas, and any constructive proposals that will help us as a council deliver the best for the residents and communities in North Tyneside will be considered.
As a council we need to achieve solutions that achieve the efficiencies required, help us maintain the services that matter most to the public and help us to continue to grow the borough.
However, we must also recognise that not making difficult changes and choices would be neglecting our duty to council tax payers to protect the financial stability of the council and its future ability to provide services to the public.
We have worked hard since 2009 to put the council back on a secure financial footing and I am determined to retain this position.
The council has already held a series of public engagement sessions – and will continue to do so.
If you are unable to attend, then all of the information about the budget is available on the council’s website at www.northtyneside.gov.uk for you to let us have your views online.
You may also feedback your suggestions or comments by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can write to the council to: Budget feedback, North Tyneside Council Quadrant (East or West), Silverlink North, Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside NE27 0BY.
MRS LINDA ARKLEY