Have your say on council budget
Residents are being invited to have their say on how they would save Â£23m in council finances.
North Tyneside Council is looking to save £52m in its budgets over the next three years and inviting members of the public, community groups and local businesses to give their views.
The local authority has saved more than £101m since 2010 and is looking to save a further £23m in its 2017/18 budget.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday, Mayor Norma Redfearn unveiled draft budget plans which aim to achieve the required savings.
She said: “This is an incredibly tough time as we are faced with steeply declining government funding as well as relentless pressure on our already slashed budgets.
“I am clear that we can rise to this challenge.
“We have listened to residents and understand what is important to them and have set out a clear plan for the future of North Tyneside.
“This plan seeks to protect and improve essential services for the people of North Tyneside, invest in the future of the borough, grow the local economy, create more jobs and opportunities and build a more modern council that enables people to do more for themselves.
“With so many competing demands to pay for services we have taken a lot of time to scrutinise our finances looking at every pound we spend.
“Funding reductions on this scale mean difficult decisions have had to be made, and, unfortunately, many more lie ahead, if we are to manage with far less money. However I am determined to protect essential services to residents, invest in the future and support the local economy.
“As a ‘listening’ Mayor I am committed to focusing on the things that people have told us are most important to them such as jobs, health, clean streets, roads and pavements.
“I also know that people expect us to protect essential services and make sure that the council operates in as efficient a way as possible, providing excellent value for money for local taxpayers.
“Therefore this draft budget aims to look after our environment by protecting our weekly refuse collections, encouraging people to recycle more and continuing investment in local environmental services.
“We will make sure North Tyneside remains a great place to live, work and visit by keeping our excellent sport, leisure centres and libraries. We will also protect the £5m we spend each year on maintaining the condition of our roads and pavements.
“To meet the challenges and rising costs of increasing demand for children’s social care and services for older and vulnerable people, we will develop new ways of working that include helping families at an earlier stage and providing new and modern services to support care at home and in residential settings.
“We will also work more closely with the NHS and adult social care services.
“Regeneration is a major key to our success and we will be continuing our multi-million pound investment programme to transform key areas across the borough including Whitley Bay Spanish City Dome and seafront and the Swans site in Wallsend.
“Our promise to deliver 3,000 new affordable homes over the next 10 years is progressing well and the superb North Tyneside Living scheme, which is providing top quality new sheltered homes for 900 of our older residents, is doing well.”
Mrs Redfearn added: “I welcome the opinions of local people, businesses, community organisations and our partners and I am always willing to listen to suggestions that could help the council achieve savings.
“It is so important that we know what people think before final decisions are taken and I would urge people to give their views on the draft budget proposals by going along to the events we are holding across the borough or by visiting the council website www.northtyneside.gov.uk”
The consultation events are being held in December across the borough. They will take place on:
• December 6: North Shields Customer First Centre, 5.30pm to 7pm;
• December 7: Whitley Bay Customer First Centre, 5.30pm to 7pm;
• December 8: Wallsend Customer First Centre, 1pm to 2.30pm;
• December 15: Longbenton, Oxford Centre, 2pm to 3.30pm.
The public consultation on the draft budget proposals for 2017/2018 will run from the end of November to January. The responses will then be analysed and considered before budget-setting decisions are taken by a meeting of full council in February.