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Listening Council Backs £11million Savings Plan Following Public Consultation

Bedford Borough Council’s Executive have backed plans to save taxpayers over £11million following a major consultation with local residents.

The savings have been focused primarily on looking at the services provided by the Council and how they could be provided in a better and more efficient way.

Back in September, Bedford Borough Council was one of the first local authorities in the country to announce its budget plans. This meant the council could carry out an early, open and genuine consultation with its residents to help inform the debate before the final decision is taken in February.

At its meeting on Wednesday 8th December, the Council Executive, considered a range of views put forward by local groups and individuals about what they thought of the budget proposals and how the council should arrive at a balanced budget given the savings that needed to be made. A number of key issues had clearly focused opinion during the consultation and having listened to these views the council announced the following changes to its original proposals:

Mayor of Bedford, Dave Hodgson, said:

“We set out our budget proposals very early in order to give residents the best possible chance to look at how we planned to make these savings and help us shape the budget for 2011. I would like to thank everyone who took part in this process. It’s essential that the council listens to residents and that people are able to have their say as part of a genuine, open consultation. Because of their efforts we are able to propose savings of over £11million while keeping services like Foxgloves Children’s respite home, preventative early years support  and maintaining our hospital school.”

Cllr Michael Headley, Finance Portfolio Holder said:

“Like all councils, we are facing a huge financial challenge with large reductions in funding from the government.  In dealing with this we have focused on cutting out waste and streamlining back office operations. We are committed to maximising the protection for frontline services. . For instance we’ve saved £400,000 by managing our debts differently and  £260,000 by looking again at   the routes used by our dustbin lorries.

By  actively seeking the views of local people they have been able to help us to identify new ways to provide some important services while still making a saving.”

The Council will formally consider the budget for 2011/12 at its Full Council meeting in February.

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