Residents set out priorities for City Council budget

December 2, 2013 2:37 PM

Tim BickCambridge residents understand the City Council faces tough decisions to save money and are not opposed to the council providing fewer services or outsourcing; but they are adamant they want a clean, safe city where services focusing on the homeless, young people and the elderly are the most important.

Art and leisure services and those that encourage community involvement are also important residents say, not only to keep people healthy but also to reduce anti-social behaviour.

While residents value the outdoor events that take place in the city, they do not believe they need to be free or provided by Cambridge City Council.

Residents expressed their views in a consultation organised as part of the City Council's budget setting process.

Cambridge City Council Leader, Tim Bick welcomed the residents' pragmatic view that the council should focus on the important things that "no-one else can or will do" while protecting the most vulnerable.

He said: "In our recent financial review in September I raised the need for the city council to do things differently based on drastically diminishing central government funding. I was interested to see what conclusions a cross section of residents would come to, given the time to understand and discuss the landscape.

"I am heartened at the pragmatism people show. Yet the desire to be inclusive and to protect the disadvantaged remains very prominent - and these are particularly important to us too. They make Cambridge the open and liberal place it is.

"The idea that when push comes to shove the council should focus primarily on the important things that no-one else can or will do, such as the city's cleanliness and safety, also reinforces our own view.

"We are trying to combine these approaches in the way we are changing our children's play service. The focus for organised activities will be deprived neighbourhoods, whilst we stimulate voluntary community play activities elsewhere with training and support. We are also generating external income from schools to help us retain our expertise. We will continue to invest in play facilities on open spaces which are for all children. We will continue to have provision for the city's children of which we can be very proud, but it will be more sustainable as it will continue at lower cost.

"The suggestions that arts and events and the tourist service might be delivered with less exclusive dependence on the council are both ideas we will be actively exploring.

"The consultation workshops achieved a high level of engagement and seem to have been valued by their participants. Because this is a time when a lot of choices are going to have to be made by the council, I am requesting that we hold two further such exercises over the next 12 months."

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