Hundreds tell Great Yarmouth council how to save money and boost borough’s future

Great Yarmouth during the 2014 Maritime Festival. Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth during the 2014 Maritime Festival. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

People living in and around Great Yarmouth have told the council they want better transport links, 'up market' tourism and clean streets.

As Great Yarmouth Borough Council's major 12-week consultation into local services, residents' priorities and building a 'vision' for the borough reaches the half way point, early results have shown that people are more likely to accept the selling off of council buildings than the closure of public toilets.

It also revealed increasing fees for burials and cremations would be an unpopular move, as would cuts to footpath and decorative lighting.

Street cleaning, economic development and flood management came out as high priorities while residents were less convinced about the role of arts, culture, heritage, events or neighbourhood management.

So far, 655 people have responded to the borough council's 'transformation' consultation which is billed as the biggest public survey carried out by the authority in decades.

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The final results, once analysed by independent experts, will guide councillors as they look to save £1.5m in 2015/16.

The council has already proposed saving £1.1m through 'improved ways of working' - such as moving services like form filling online, but will still needs to find £400,000 of savings for the year ahead meaning cuts are likely.

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It has long been acknowledged that the next four years will be tough for cash-strapped GYBC which blames the drop in central government funding for pushing it into the red.

The council must plug a budget gap of £4.7m by 2018 - the equivalent to 35 per cent of its current annual budget of £13.3m.

Unveiling the survey's early results today, interim chief executive Gordon Mitchell said: 'I encourage everyone to give feedback on the proposals and share their own service priorities and aims and aspirations for the borough's future, as this will help councillors and potentially other organisations make more informed decisions.

'With still one month to go until the end of the formal consultation, the council is already impressed by both the sheer level of returns and the clear consideration given in many responses, particularly the section on the borough's vision.'

As well as asking residents to grade what sfrontline services they consider important, the consultation asks a series of questions designed to help shape a shared vision for borough's future.

Mr Mitchell, admitting that a 'vision' might seem an abstract concept, explained: 'It's about trying to get a clear picture of what Great Yarmouth might be like in 10 or 20 years time and being fairly clear about the journey to get there.

'This is initial feedback but it is being revealed now to encourage even more people to complete the consultation by Monday, October 20 and to take part in discussions on what they would like the borough to be like.

'Over the coming months, the council will seek to actively organise and promote discussions across all sections of the community on both the consultation results and, importantly, the borough's future.'

To take part in the 'transformation' consultation online, which closes on October 20, visit Hard copies of the questionnaire are available from the Town Hall.

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