Service cuts consultation is launched

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Residents in Mansfield and Ashfield are being asked to comment on sweeping cuts to services being planned by bosses at Nottinghamshire County Council.

Branded by the authority as its Budget Challenge, staff are distributing thousands of comment cards around libraries and public buildings around the county.

Residents are being asked to identify which council services they think can be reduced to balance the books, and to what degree people would accept a reduced level of service.

This could include less people being eligible for a service, travelling further to access it, paying more or becoming part of a group to run a service currently provided by the authority.

Over the next three years, the council must find an estimated £154m in savings to public services - which the authority says is already depleted by three years of austerity, as well as spiralling demand for support and care services for vulnerable adults and children.

So far, more than 300 people have responded to the consultation since its launch two weeks ago.

Councillor leader Alan Rhodes said: “It is clear that people do understand the financial difficulties being forced upon the council by unprecedented cuts in Government funding that will impact every person, family and organisation in the county.

“The scale of the savings we are being forced to make will inevitably mean some services being reduced, delivered in a different way or stopped all together.

“But our aim is to minimise the impact on the services that people value the most.”

People can register their views at www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/budget or join the debate at Facebook/Nottinghamshire and Twitter @nottscc using the hashtag #NottsBudget.

For those not online, call the customer service centre on 0300 500 80 80 or complete a comment card, available now in all Nottinghamshire County Council libraries.

The council has launched two further stages in the consultation process. Step two asks for comments on the council’s strategic plan. Step three will offer the opportunity to comment on detailed changes, reductions and closures of individual services being proposed.

The Budget Challenge closes on 17 January 2014.

Pictured: Councillor Alan Rhodes, leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, with Rick Price from the authority’s libraries service, demonstrating the new comment cards.