Councillor reveals Dudley consultation costs

Cllr Pete Lowe is all smiles after revealing his big finance consultation has had thousands of  responses

Cllr Pete Lowe is all smiles after revealing his big finance consultation has had thousands of responses

First published in Local

THE cost of the Dudley Council's Big Question consultation will be around £6,000 according to the authority's finance chief.

Borough residents have been asked to have their say on whether the Labour-run council should hold a referendum on a council tax rise of more than two per cent or make drastic spending cuts.

The consultation was launched earlier this month and Dudley cabinet member for finance, Cllr Pete Lowe, has revealed around 3,000 people have already responded.

Cllr Lowe said: "This is brilliant value for money. It is not just about a council tax rise but what the public see as priority services.

"Last year the figure was 28, we have already got 100 times more than that."

Cllr Lowe rejects the argument from opponents that the consultation is a copout to avoid making hard choices on spending.

He said: "We have a legal obligation go out and consult, we will still have to make hard political decisions and we are not shirking that.

"When we have to make those decisions it will be informed - we have asked the public to give their views."

The cost of the consultation is divided between media publicity, notices in public buildings and postal charges for pre-paid envelopes to return questionairres.

The consultation runs until the end of February and so far the bill stands at £5,500.

Money previously earmarked to pay allowances to chairmen of the now defunct council area committees will be diverted to cover the consultation costs.

Meanwhile, Cllr Lowe and Children's Services supremo Cllr Tim Crumpton will be facing tough questions from young people this week at a debate on council finances and the consultation in Stourbridge.

The event, for anyone aged under 25 from Dudley Borough, will be at Base Studios, Rufford Road, on Friday January 25.

It has been organised by the Base in conjunction with the Stourbridge News to give young people a chance to put their questions and comments to the councillors during a Question Time style debate.

For more information, or to submit a question, email martyn.smith@stourbridgenews.co.uk

Comments (7)

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3:30pm Thu 24 Jan 13

bill etheridge says...

We elect Councillors to take decisions not to abdicate their responsibility this way
The Labour party is frightened to take tough decisions and is trapped in old fashioned thinking where the only options are cut or tax
Time to look at things differently and try to do things better and more efficiently
Most importantly of all no cuts or tax increase until the councillors have done the decent thing and cut their allowances to contribute towards the budget defecit

Bill Etheridge
Dudley & Halesowen UKIP
We elect Councillors to take decisions not to abdicate their responsibility this way The Labour party is frightened to take tough decisions and is trapped in old fashioned thinking where the only options are cut or tax Time to look at things differently and try to do things better and more efficiently Most importantly of all no cuts or tax increase until the councillors have done the decent thing and cut their allowances to contribute towards the budget defecit Bill Etheridge Dudley & Halesowen UKIP bill etheridge
  • Score: 0

4:57pm Thu 24 Jan 13

The Villan says...

I just hope that the survey's results are made public and they are available to view to prove they aren't "fudged".
Trust in elected polticians, be they local or central, is at an all time low.
I just hope that the survey's results are made public and they are available to view to prove they aren't "fudged". Trust in elected polticians, be they local or central, is at an all time low. The Villan
  • Score: 0

5:28pm Thu 24 Jan 13

dudley old boy says...

Only labour could dress a waste of money up as brilliant value for money
Only labour could dress a waste of money up as brilliant value for money dudley old boy
  • Score: 0

9:27am Fri 25 Jan 13

satchman says...

Well they can't do any worse job than the last lot who ran the council for year after year.Look at the state of Dudley after years of Tory Rule!!
Well they can't do any worse job than the last lot who ran the council for year after year.Look at the state of Dudley after years of Tory Rule!! satchman
  • Score: 0

1:17pm Fri 25 Jan 13

Sam Vimes says...

It doesn't ask us if there should be a referendum. It asks if we want an increase in council tax or not. I answered 'No'. I do hope they are not going to try and claim my "No" applies to the question "should we have a referendum".

Didn't think I'd need to take a screenshot of the question as evidence.
It doesn't ask us if there should be a referendum. It asks if we want an increase in council tax or not. I answered 'No'. I do hope they are not going to try and claim my "No" applies to the question "should we have a referendum". Didn't think I'd need to take a screenshot of the question as evidence. Sam Vimes
  • Score: 0

4:30pm Fri 25 Jan 13

ianmarrey says...

The Council consults on the budget and council tax every year - government guidance says;

"The public now expect to be consulted in a way that it perhaps did not before. Consultation does not remove your responsibility for making the final judgement about spending and what level of council tax to set.

That is still your judgement: as councillors you will be held accountable for those judgements and as officers you will be accountable for the effectiveness of whatever spending is agreed. Asking the public makes a contribution by giving you more information on priorities and how far people are prepared to go to fund public services in your area."

28 people responded to last year's consultation.

This is not a referendum but it is right to inform people that the consequence of raising council tax might be that a referendum is required.

Meaningless consultation can be done on the cheap by those who don't really want to hear the answers.
The Council consults on the budget and council tax every year - government guidance says; "The public now expect to be consulted in a way that it perhaps did not before. Consultation does not remove your responsibility for making the final judgement about spending and what level of council tax to set. That is still your judgement: as councillors you will be held accountable for those judgements and as officers you will be accountable for the effectiveness of whatever spending is agreed. Asking the public makes a contribution by giving you more information on priorities and how far people are prepared to go to fund public services in your area." 28 people responded to last year's consultation. This is not a referendum but it is right to inform people that the consequence of raising council tax might be that a referendum is required. Meaningless consultation can be done on the cheap by those who don't really want to hear the answers. ianmarrey
  • Score: 0

8:40pm Fri 25 Jan 13

viktoria says...

Local elections are much more expensive than this and the turnout is often low. So perhaps we should also do away with elections as well? It would be much cheaper if the Councillors just put themselves and their friends onto the Borough Council.
Local elections are much more expensive than this and the turnout is often low. So perhaps we should also do away with elections as well? It would be much cheaper if the Councillors just put themselves and their friends onto the Borough Council. viktoria
  • Score: 0

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