‘Shocking’, ‘worrying’, ‘saddened and appalled’ - budget challenge survey reveals Wisbech people’s opinions about proposed cuts to services

Budget challenge

Budget challenge - Credit: Archant

Just 46 per cent of Wisbech people said they are aware of the budget challenge faced by Cambridgeshire County Council in a recent survey.

The survey, which was carried out at the Wisbech heritage craft market and car boot aimed to gain people’s opinions about proposed cuts.

It questioned people about how savings could be made, how community action could support services and their thoughts about paying more council tax.

The report stated that “almost half the people talked to were unaware of the budget challenged faced by the county council”.

Furthermore, some people expressed ‘surprise’ at the scale of cuts needed over the next five years and others described them as “shocking” and “worrying”.

One person said they were “saddened and appalled”, while another said £100 million was too much to have to save in five years.

Some people also suggested the scale of the cuts was related to a history of underinvestment and underfunding in Wisbech.

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People suggested that to make savings, “cuts should not come from services” with some asking, “Why do high end council employees get paid so much?”

There were also suggestions that street lights could be turned off late at night, although more people mentioned this as a negative idea saying that Wisbech is not safe enough for this to happen.

They added that local policing is “inadequate” or needed protecting from cuts.

Some suggested that money could be spent in a more efficient or targeted way, i.e. merging different parts of government.

Some also questioned spending money on proposals to reopen the Wisbech to March railway line.

The survey also found that, generally, increasing community action and volunteering, from young and retired people, would help to support local services; people thought it was possible for libraries to be staffed by volunteers because it would ‘increase feelings of wellbeing’.

However, when asked if they personally would be willing to volunteer more there was a mixed response, with some people saying they already do as much as they can – citing work and family commitments as a barrier.

There was also a mixed response regarding community spirit; regular volunteers felt it was strong while others disagreed and a small number linked this issue to migration.