An unprecedented public consultation campaign will take place in Dorset this summer, inviting local residents to have their say on county council services.
More than 30 ‘Ask Dorset’ roadshow events will take place around the county during June and July, giving people the chance to say what services they value the most – and how they think their council tax should be spent.
Residents can also give their views through an online survey and the summer edition of the council’s newspaper, ‘Your Dorset’, and will be entered into a draw to win an iPad.
Council Cabinet members and senior officers will attend the roadshows, meeting people at supermarkets and busy town centre locations, both during the daytime and in the evenings, and at weekends. Leader Cllr Spencer Flower – who will be at some of the events – said: “The county council has never undertaken such an extensive consultation exercise in this way. By 2017, as part of the national austerity measures, our budget will have been reduced by a third. That’s a huge amount, and we need to make sure the money we do have is used effectively to provide services people need the most.
“The county council has to change the way it does things, and become more customer-focused. To make sure that happens, it is more important than ever that we listen to local people and make sure these views inform the way we work. The Ask Dorset campaign is a key part of the process.”
Since 2010, the council has reduced its budget by £60 million, and will have to find a further £43 million in savings over the next three years. However, it will still spend around £250 million a year on services ranging from road maintenance and rural transport to libraries, social care and children’s centres.
Ask Dorset will give people the opportunity to identify where and how the money should be used. Highlighting the wide range of services provided by the council, the survey will ask three key questions:
- What does the public value most and least?
- How and where do we deliver services better?
- Do we put up council tax or redesign services?
The roadshows kicked off on Tuesday, 3 June in Swanage, outside the Mowlem Theatre, and will visit 18 different towns around the county, with 34 events in total.
Alternatively, people can answer the questions online at www.dorsetforyou.com/have-your-say or fill in a form in Your Dorset, which will be delivered to households at the end of July. There will also be direct meetings with stakeholder groups, including those in the business community.
Cllr Flower added: “Whichever way suits you, we would urge you to get involved and have your say. This is your chance to tell us what is most important to you, your family and your friends, and will help inform the way we deliver services in the future.”