County council quiz of 100 Ely residents finds ‘cuts should start at top’, nearly two thirds might accept paying more council tax and ‘protecting vulnerable is most important’

Budget challenge

Budget challenge - Credit: Archant

Comments such as “cuts should start at the top” and “people at the top get too much” were among those collected by the county council during a stop off in Ely.

Some 100 people offered their thoughts to the council who were quizzing residents on the challenges faced by the authority as it tries to axe £100 million of spending in the next five years.

One person said the cuts are an “unfortunate reality” but added that they are “not shocked by the level of the challenge. Deficit has to be cleared. It’s no good living in cloud cuckoo land about it”.

Others thought councillors expenses should be challenged while one felt “we should start with getting rid of golden handshakes/huge salaries”.

The proposal to reduce street lighting also arose and opinion was divided as to this being a good idea or not; one person suggested that the streetlights are one of few benefits from council tax, alongside bin collections.

Furthermore, some people suggested things they want to see protected rather than cut; “it is wrong that savings might be taken from children and the disabled”, said one resident.

Another said the elderly should be “properly supported – better support for those who need it” and someone else added “protecting vulnerable people is most important”.

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People were asked about increasing the numbers who volunteers although one felt “volunteering is brilliant if you are that type of person”.

In relation to paying more council tax, 59 per cent of people gave an answer that amounted to a conditional yes, saying “I don’t mind as long as the money goes to the right services” and “yes as long as the council doesn’t waste money”.

Half of those questioned felt they were aware of the budget challenge faced by Cambridgeshire County Council and others said that “protecting the vulnerable is most important”.

The survey aimed to gain people’s opinions about proposed cuts and questioned people about how savings could be made, how community action could support services and thoughts about paying more council tax.

Some people expressed their reaction to the scale of the cuts, saying they are “shocked” about the sum that needs to be saved in five years.