Kent County Council budget consultation falls on deaf ears as just a fraction of residents respond
Just 308 residents
responded to KCC's budget consultation
by political editor Paul Francis
Kent County Council is facing criticism over a public
consultation about its budget after just 416 people out of a
population of 1.2million took part.
The Conservative-run council launched a wide-ranging eight-week
consultation over its spending plans for 2013-14 that cost
But, despite a major publicity programme, its efforts to engage
the public in a debate about plans for savings of £60m fell on deaf
Of the 416 responses, 308 were from Kent residents - with 52
coming from KCC staff and the rest from other groups.
And those who did take part delivered a mixed verdict on
the authority's spending plans.
While six out of 10 supported a proposed council tax
freeze, there was criticism over KCC's plans to make £18.2m savings
in adult social care and spend £3m less on vulnerable children.
Many questioned how the council would protect vulnerable
children and adults, voicing what a report says was "a substantial
concern" about the impact of cuts.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Trudy Dean said: "It is a pathetic
response. We said at the time that it was a ludicrous way of doing
"They [KCC] produced a 31-page document which, even if you did
plough through it, did not contain enough information for people to
answer the questions they asked."
Cllr John Simmonds, KCC cabinet member for finance, said he was
disappointed - but explaining the complexities of a £2bn budget was
"Yes, it is disappointing that more people did not respond but
it was still a worthwhile exercise and was the most comprehensive
consultation we have done.
"We will look at what we could do better for next time. It is
very difficult to get across to people how we spend £2bn."
A report due to be presented to KCC's cabinet on Monday reveals
that over the eight weeks, there were 298 online responses, 105
written responses and just 23 e-mails and other letters.
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