TO ASK OR NOT TO ASK…. THAT IS THE QUESTION……..
TO ASK OR NOT TO ASK…. THAT IS THE QUESTION…..
It's interesting to see the different approaches taken by neighbouring local authorities when it comes to setting the council tax.
In the New Forest, the ruling Conservatives don't make much effort at all to engage with residents before they set the budgets for the year ahead. The problem with this is that it leaves an impression that they simply aren't very interested in finding out what people think.
Credit to neighbouring Southampton City Council, where Labour are in charge. They have advertised a survey on social media in which they are asking people for views.
The downside to this is that it is very largely abused. If you have a read through the Facebook threads it is apparent that few people have actually addressed the survey questions and have simply used the post as an opportunity to attack the ruling party.
I suppose the reality is that very few people are interested in studying the detail of local government finance and helping decide what level of service is appropriate. It is simply all to easy to complain about everything, from the state of the roads to facilities being closed because of Covid restrictions.
I even saw one chap write "If the Council had protected my Father from vermin neighbours 44 years ago, he might have lived a bit longer".
I can understand why some Councillors take the view that it is simply better to make decisions without going through the tiresome business of inviting abuse through consultation. However, I take the view that it is better to treat people like adults and at least give everyone a chance to express a view. Some political criticism is justified, others not.
There is a real skill in offering people any real element of choice given the cut backs to local government funding. However, it should be possible to explain clearly how things are. Councillors aren't highly qualified accountants (normally). We are people from all walks of life who need to have complex things explained to us. It's not that big a step to also explain it to voters.
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