Potters Bar people have their say on council budget cuts

INCREASED parking charges and a reduction in free swimming – just two of the proposals considered by Hertsmere Borough Council in a bid to save cash.

But these are not the opinions of unelected finance bosses in back room council offices – they are the suggestions of the people of Hertsmere themselves.

A survey asking residents to help shape how the council delivers services in the face of �2m worth of Government budget cuts has thrown up some surprising results.

More than 400 people took part in face-to-face interviews late last year, where they were given an imaginary budget and asked how they would spend it.

Suggestions included charging 20p for the second half hour of on-street parking, increasing charges in council-run car parks, reducing the amount of grass cutting and floral displays around the borough and cutting the opening hours of the council’s area offices – including at the Wyllyotts Centre in Potters Bar – to just three days a week.

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Reducing the amount of free swimming available to under 16s and over 60s was also suggested, although this service will continue as normal after the council renegotiated the terms of the agreement.

The number of Pcsos will remain, as will green waste and recycling collections, after residents backed keeping the services.

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Hertsmere Borough Council leader Morris Bright said: “It was interesting to note that in several cases residents said they are prepared to accept a cut in service, or an increase in charges, above the level we will be asking for. “The council will be using the results to plan its services and budgets over the next year and beyond but they are all aimed at running the council more efficiently; looking for new or cheaper ways of delivering services and increasing income.”

The proposals will go to full council next month.

Other austerity measures will see around 30 council staff leaving their posts over the next few weeks, through voluntary and compulsory redundancies and early retirements.

Other staff will work reduced hours and recruiting has been limited.

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