Residents asked to help EDDC decide which services to cut

TOUGH decisions have to be taken by East Devon District Council members over the next few weeks, as they prepare to set the budget for the new financial year.

TOUGH decisions have to be taken by East Devon District Council members over the next few weeks, as they prepare to set the budget for the new financial year.

Before that happens, the council wants to hear from the public about some of the spending and saving challenges facing those who hold the purse-strings at Knowle. You can have your say through an online survey on EDDC's website - see link below.

The deadline for completing the survey is Sunday , January 17.

Officers' latest thinking on savings will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on February 2.

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They will make recommendations to the Full Council, which will set the budget and agree East Devon's council tax precept at a meeting on 24 February.

Presenting a balanced budget for April 2010 to March 2011 is all the more difficult this year, due to heavy losses in income caused by the recession and by low interest rates.

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Members are looking at a nil or small rise in council tax of up to two per cent, keeping pace with inflation.

Assuming a two per cent increase, the council's finance team has to fill a funding gap of �1.5 million through savings that are bound to be visible but do not have to be painful.

Among the measures already being taken are sharing a director with Exeter City Council for an interim period next year and investigating the sharing of our chief executive with South Somerset District Council as part of a wider service sharing exercise in the future.

But these are only partial solutions; some savings in the spending on current services will still have to be made, as well as increases in some fees and charges.

EDDC has already consulted with representatives of Town Councils across the district and is awaiting their feedback on some of the choices to be faced.

In a meeting at the start of December, the towns heard how they may feel the greatest impact of some of the possible savings - in EDDC's largest front-line service, StreetScene.

One area where spending will actually increase is the waste and recycling collection service, which will be rolling out to more parts of East Devon during 2010.

Many other areas of EDDC's work will need to see savings.

Raising car park charges by 10p an hour could potentially raise �172,000 and offset the need for some other savings.

The local impact of an increase could be offset for East Devon motorists by an improved season ticket offering, perhaps increasing the parking period from two hours to three per session.

EDDC is conducting a short online survey with its residents to see which of the options find greatest favour.

The survey is available on EDDC's budget 2010 website at:

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