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How can councils face the cuts following the recession?

By Bob Dale
BBC Kent

Rubish bins
Would you accept cuts in rubbish collections?

What council services could you not do without? How unhappy would you be to see funding cut to your local theatre or museum?

Should less be spent on leisure centres, libraries or parks? How would you feel if all the public toilets in your town were to be closed?

Councils across the UK are facing an unprecedented spending squeeze.

Faced with a list of services they have to provide, such as refuse collection and the licensing of pubs, clubs and restaurants, many are having to make tough choices about what discretionary services they can afford.

BBC South East has surveyed all the local authorities in the county to find out how deep these cuts will be, and where the axe is likely to fall.

Why not have your say and fill in the form below with your ideas and comments.

The Christmas lights in both Margate and Cliftonville are still switched on every night - and we are now in March!
Lesley, Ramsgate

Huge savings could be made in vehicles,Police do not NEED 160 mph patrol cars,speed camera vans do not NEED to be new large vans,fire brigade does not NEED lots of vans (anybody looked around the back of a fire station lately)highway patrol do not NEED expensive 4x4s {french autoroutes use renault vans}any kcc staff vehicles should be cheapest diesel car/van regardless of status.
Robert, Ashford kent

Make all services self funding, if people want to use a Library or Museum they should pay, if there is not enough support close them and centralise to a main Library or Museum in the county. Don't produce forms and leaflets in multi languages - we are English if you come here learn the language. Stop all immigrant assistant services - they seem to get here and abuse our hospitality quite well without our encouragement. Council wages and staffing across the board are out of hand, revue the complete structure and make all re-apply for their jobs at a realistic salary if their position is still required.
Roger Baker, Dover, UK

It is the waste of money that needs to be sorted out. We have Government radio and television adverts about 4 times an hour and endless leaflets and posters sometimes about the most minor things, this creates additional waste paper as well as the cost of producing it and the people who have been well paid to dream up all this stuff. I am sorry if Government jobs will be lost but please join us in the real world of the private sector on a very modest wage, hours reduced, pay freezes, loss of pensions we have paid into for many years and no bonuses we are struggling just to keep our heads above water.
Susan Spink, Chatham, Kent

Councils were originally to provide services to its residents, it appears now that all levels of council have lost there way and look to larger projects at the expense of the basic requirements.
Mr Brian Rapley, Northfleet. UK

I think the council in our area should have shelved the big projects like the New Marlowe Theatre £25 million, refurbishment of the Beaney Centre £4million, The refurb of the Mayoral Parlour Tower House £700,000, this is a disgrace at the cost to front line services and council jobs being lost, surely this money would have been better spent on keeping jobs and local services until the recession is well behind us. Here in Whitstable we have lost our tourist information centre, our council office and cut backs to Age Concern and the Volunteer Bureau, closure of public toilets, the list goes on and the money they have wasted on the big projects could have funded these smaller projects which mean so much to local communities.
Donna Tangen, Whitstable

Easy - split all the choices for funding into must do, should do and could do. All the must do's get paid for before moving onto the should do's. Only when they are done then the could's get looked at. The problem is that someone has to choose the list! Also (and this won't happen) if what I have read in the local press is correct then around 25% of our council tax goes to fund pensions. Perhaps it's time to consider moving staff to a defined contributions scheme - perhaps starting with the chief exec's and senior managers, after all we're led to believe they are paid comparably to the private sector so why not give them a private sector pension? Finally perhaps a pay freeze for a year for all those earning over £30k? If it was a choice of a pay freeze or no job I know what I'd choose and its only what a lot of struggling businesses have had to do to survive over the last couple of years. Neil Richards, Paddock Wood

There are too many managers being paid too much. This is ratepayers' money which should be spent on frontline services. Cut the administration costs and red tape, not the services.
K Smith, Maidstone, Kent

Councils could save themselves (and us)a small fortune if they (a) cut down on the number of 'consultants', and (b) the non-productive 'PC' posts like 'equality advisers', 'human rights advisers' etc that one sees advertised with alarming frequency. We simply cannot afford to support these parasites in the current financial climate.
Roy C, Dartford, Kent

I can't understand why our local and county council only 'react' and not 'pro-act'. What I mean is why do they go out and fix things when they are worn out, damaged, and fallen apart, costing more to make good what they have, more in call off contracts and call out fees from thier contractors, why can't they carry out routine maintenance and inspections of essentials, like roads, street lighting, public ameinities like toilets, libraries etc., just like industry. A breakdown costs up to 5 time more to put right than it would have cost to prevent it. Another thinig is priorities, my friend lives in sheltered accomodation and she is about to loose the warden because of cuts, BUT the local council funded theatre is still recieving funds, WHY??????
Kevin Braine, Swanscombe, Kent

Police funding from the Council Tax could be substantially reduced by implementing much increased fines, and making sure that 100% are collected. Many Police activities actually COST the Council Tax payer money, so that the more fines are levied, the greater the bill! For example, travel at twice the speed limit in Oslo and you get a fine of 20% of your salary - no £30 nonsense fimes there! A local example: on 12th Feb it was reported that two men who created £3000 damage were fined just £500 with £85 costs...
Ed Jones, Canterbury

Leisure facilities should be privatised so that users pay for them. I object strongly to ave to contribute to facilities that I do not use and would be happy to pay if I wanted to use them. Council tax should also be calculated on the number of persons in a property rather than the rateable value of a property; bring back poll tax, the fairest way of funding council services.
Richard Wraight, Rochester, United Kingdom

Local authorities should stop producing news letters which in the main only tell us how well they are doing. They should stop carrying out expensive surveys seeking public opinion when they have no intention of taking it into account. In the main Councils have a plan and stick to it regardless of public opinion.
R Bowen, Thanet

I would like to see individual councillors expense claims published for all to see. And apart from sitting at meetings what they have done for the community throughout the year.
Mike Gear, Borough Green

Local councils really are facing substantial reductions in discretionary services. Too much time is spent filling in unnecessary forms that only serve even more unnecessary Govt Depts. My favourite is the "Office of Better Regulation" you could not invent such a Dept in your worst nightmare it reminds me of "Yes Minister" and the Department of Administrative Affairs. So before criticising local Govt spare a thought for the staff.
O Baldock, Tonbridge, Kent

Councils should stop employing all these people with weird and wonderful titles which are totally meaningless and seem to be nothing to do with the basic services which we expect from Councils, i.e. refuse collection, care of the elderly, planning, housing etc. Once upon a time the Town Clerk seemed to run everything so let's keep the frontline staff and cut the empire building at management level!
E Hammond, Tonbridge, Kent

Whilst I am not in possession of the full facts of councils expenditure, in my opinion, it always seems on the face of it that when cuts are to be made, they are in the basic public services. They also result in loss of staff at the front line, the day to day workers, who actually provide these services. This happens in many organisations, not just with councils. Councils exist for the benefit and good of the community, and are funded by tax. Therefore, the cuts should be made on any inflated senior officials pay and allowances, and middle management jobs that seem to be created these days for some peoples development. Cutting of services should not be in question, unless of course a reduction in Council tax is being offered?!! Lets not forget if there were no services or staff at the front line, we wouldn't need management or senior executives, because there would be little or nothing to be in charge of!
P Rogers, Canterbury Kent


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