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Council’s priorities not secret, not confidential, just rubbish

The city council has finally published its league table of services as it lays the ground for further budget cuts and savings.

It has put the controversial Local Plan, in which more than 15,000 new homes are planned for the district, atop the pile, with the cost of running democracy second and development management third.

Culture in Canterbury also features highly with the Marlowe Theatre at five out of 70, the Beaney at seven and the Roman Museum at 21. Meanwhile, rubbish collections are ranked 28 and public toilets are 53.

The lowest scored services were elections, archives and the council’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

Executive members and senior officers drew up the table as the council prepares to lose 45% of its income by 2017.

It means certain services and staff will face the axe. Mr Carmichael will go into greater details with officers at the staff conference on November 14. In his letter to council workers, chief executive Colin Carmichael said:

“All this information is being used in our star chambers to think about whether we need to continue to deliver these services and, if we do, whether to do so at the current cost level.”

The table was created by rating each service out of 10 against each of the council’s 10 pledges on its corporate plan. These have titles such as economy, safety, homes, culture, health and well-being, and young people.

Questions may be asked about those ratings after the Marlowe Theatre received 4/10 for health and well-being and the mayor’s office received 3/10 in every single category, including housing, safety and protecting the environment.

The Conservative controlled authority came under fire earlier in the year after it created the list but refused to let anyone see it.

Cllr Alex Perkins, the leader of the opposition Lib Dem group, believes the people of the district should have been allowed to rate the services they use. He said:

“If the council are going to determine funding according to a league table of priorities then they should be local residents’ priorities. not council leader John Gilbey’s. Why don’t the council ask people to give their own scores and actually prioritise what local residents want for a change.”

The league table is published in the agenda for the executive meeting at the Guildhall tonight (7th November).

HB Gazette 7th November 2013

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