Opinion column – Stephen Parnaby, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council

We are committed to supporting tourism activities such as Tour de Yorkshire.
We are committed to supporting tourism activities such as Tour de Yorkshire.

It’s coming up to that important time of the year again when we start to set the annual council budget.

At East Riding of Yorkshire Council we feel very strongly that residents should have the opportunity to tell us how they think tax-payers’ money should be spent.

Council leader Stephen Parnaby OBE.

Council leader Stephen Parnaby OBE.

That is why we give people the chance to make their views known in an online budget consultation survey which this year launches on the council website in late October.

Every year we also invite people to come along to a budget priorities consultation event to find out more about council services, ask questions of councillors and officers and take part in a workshop in which they have to decide their own spending priorities.

This year’s event takes place on 24 November – the day after the Chancellor of the Exchequer presents his first Budget statement.

If you come along to our budget event you will hear how the council has been investing millions of pounds into improving the East Riding’s infrastructure year after year – despite the huge financial pressures placed on us by central Government funding cuts. The budget priorities consultation events we run for the public allow people to be involved in these kinds of spending decisions.

Last year’s event was very well attended, with 95% of those taking part saying they felt the question and answer session, for example, was informative and useful.

It always proves to be an interesting exercise, involving lots of discussion as people weigh up the pros and cons of spending more on some services but less on others.

Maintaining and repairing roads, social care and flood prevention are always among the top priorities but the events also reveal many differences of opinion when it comes to other services.

However, one thing that people do always agree on is the scale of the challenge the council faces year in, year out to continue delivering top-quality services against a backdrop of huge cuts in funding from central government.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council has weathered the economic storm and austerity better than most, thanks to strong financial management, forward planning, using new technology to work more efficiently and the policy I mentioned earlier of investing to save – and this has stood us in good stead as we continue to fund major infrastructure and other capital projects.

The East Riding is already a great place to live, work and visit and the council is committed to making it even better, whether through the completion of the fantastic £25m East Riding Leisure Bridlington, large flood alleviation schemes and highways works or the ongoing support of businesses and tourism through initiatives like our Tour de Yorkshire and City of Culture sponsorship.

Despite all this, the financial squeeze is affecting everyone, including East Riding of Yorkshire Council, and every year we have tough financial decisions to make which have an impact on residents.

Therefore the budget consultation is an ideal way for you to let us know what’s important to you and how you feel spending should be prioritised.

Anyone who would like to attend the budget event, which is in Beverley at 9.30am on Thursday 24 November, can complete a form at www.eastriding.gov.uk/budgetform but I’d advise you to do it soon because space is limited and places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

The results of the online survey and feedback from the budget event will help to determine the council’s financial planning when it sets its budget for 2017-18.