James Jamieson’s column from Central Beds Council: Looking ahead, and not just to the Rugby World Cup

We all want our children to have aspirations, but when my son asked whether we could go to New Zealand to watch the Rugby World Cup, I had to bring him back down to earth.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 13th September 2011, 7:00 am

With the new school year having only just started, it would have done his education no favours to embark on such a trip (not to mention the cost!), so I gently explained he’d have to watch it on TV. The early starts to games guarantee he’ll have no problem getting out of bed for the next seven weeks!

We’re certainly not taking our eye off the ball at Central Bedfordshire Council either. It may seem a long way off before the annual council tax bills arrive next March, but the business of setting the budget has already begun.

This year we are spending over £180million on services benefiting communities across Central Bedfordshire.

Looking ahead, we know there will be less government grant available for council services than there has been in the past, and we estimate we will have to make savings of £10million during 2012/2013, as we contribute to reducing the national deficit. Our financial strategy is being designed to meet the challenge of providing services with a smaller budget, not just for next year but for the coming four years.

We want your views and opinions to be at the heart of this strategy. We have just started the first of three phases of public engagement, to establish which services you want the council to focus on and where you feel savings could be made.

I encourage all residents to fill in and return the budget survey in the next edition of News Central or complete it online at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/consultations when it is launched this Friday.

You can also give your thoughts at your local councillor’s surgery.

The feedback from this survey will be used to help councillors draw up a set of budget options for saving money and we will consult with you on these options in December and January.