Norfolk’s Big Conversation comes under the spotlight

The success of a major consultation to give people a say on what vital county council services should look like at a time of cuts is to come under the spotlight.

Norfolk County Council received more than 9,000 responses to its Big Conversation last year which was set up a the authority looked to bridge a �155m funding gap over the course of the next three years.

The consultation which ran from October 26 to January 11 aimed to 'meaningfully engage' with the public and stakeholders on specific proposals including cuts as well a proposed changes to the council's 'core role' asking for views on what the main role of the county council should be in future, the council's cuts proposals, and areas where people believed the council should stop funding to enable others to step in.

Supporters believed the consultation gave the public a chance to have their day and saw the authority back away from some of its more controversial plans such as axing some key services for vulnerable people. But critics feared the exercise was a fig-leaf and the authority had largely made up its mind about is plans.

On Tuesday members of the council's scrutiny committee will examine how effective the Big Conversation was and whether any lessons can learned.

Paul Morse, committee chairman, said: 'The Big Conversation was undoubtedly a major exercise designed to give people a say over where savings could and should be made over three years. Members will be very interested to hear the details of how it was carried out, what difference it actually made and whether any lessons were learned that could help with any future budget consultations.'

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