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Don't pass the buck to communities, say opposition Wiltshire councillors
Opposition councillors at Wiltshire Council have succeeded in reining in the extent to which council services will be delivered by communities in the future.
An extraordinary meeting of Wiltshire Council was held in Trowbridge today to discuss the Conservative run council’s proposed business plan for the next four years which will result in £120 million budget cuts.
Council leader Jane Scott said the council would have to change to enable services to be delivered and emphasised the greater role of communities to get involved with running services and decision-making.
She said: “We have to fundamentally rethink the services we provide and how we can do things differently. We will need to continue to remove waste and unnecessary bureaucracy and review service areas to make sure that we are providing the services that our residents and communities want and need.
“The way forward is services that are run for the community, in the community, by the community.
“Standing still and doing nothing is just not an option - instead we must continue to be innovative and to embrace new ways of doing things. The most important thing for us is that we continue to support the people of Wiltshire, particularly those who are most vulnerable and provide services that people need and want.”
However, cllr Jon Hubbard, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, was concerned at how much responsibility communities would be given.
He said: “I’m very pleased to see the commitment to communities but I am slightly concerned at the extent to which at times the document (business plan) hints at passing the entire buck to the community rather than working in partnership with communities. I think there’s a great deal of services that we could run far better in partnership with communities but some could not be run wholly by communities.”
He succeeded in adding into the business plan: “Where appropriate public services and resources should be devolved to area boards, parish and town councils.”
Another amendment proposed by Liberal Democrat Cllr Steve Oldrieve to set a target of reducing the council’s carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2020 and promote the installation of renewable energy to provide 250 megawatts of capacity in Wiltshire was defeated.
Cllr Toby Sturgis, Cabinet member for waste, said to achieve the targets would mean “huge wind turbines” being erected in Wiltshire which he was opposed to.
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