Cornwall Council is encouraging members of the public to have their say on the budget for next year, and into the future, at a series of public events taking place across Cornwall over the next few weeks.

Since 2010 the Council has been forced to find savings of £170m in its budget as a result of cuts in Government funding. With a further £40m reduction in funding expected by 2016 and £100m* by 2018, the Council is asking local residents, businesses and partners to discuss where cuts and savings could be made and to come up with any suggestions for increasing income.

The Cornwall wide budget consultation is being led by Alex Folkes, the council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, who wants as many people as possible to be involved in helping to shape the council’s future direction.

“We are facing some stark challenges” he said. “Many of our services are already under tremendous pressure to meet increasing demand with the reduced funds available to them. These future reductions in funding means we have to decide where to make the necessary cuts and how.

“While we will do our best to safeguard services for the most vulnerable and those on which local people most rely, the truth is that we will not be able to continue to do everything in the same way. This will mean having to make some very hard choices and we want to give local people the chance to help us set the priorities for the future”.

The council is staging a series of consultation events to find out the views of members of the public as well as voluntary and community groups during September and October.

These include public meetings in each of the 19 community network areas between 5 September and 9 October and a Cornwall Budget Debate at County Hall, Truro on 10 October which will be webcast live.

The public meetings, all of which will begin at 6.30 pm, are being held at: Thursday, 5 September - St Austell One Stop Shop Friday, 6 September - Perranzabuloe Parish Rooms Monday, 9 September - Alexander Hall, St Blazey Wednesday, 11 September - Launceston Town Hall Thursday, 12 September - Shire House Suite, Bodmin Friday, 13 September - Wadebridge Council Offices Monday, 16 September - St Pinnock Village Hall, near Liskeard Tuesday, 17 September - Pool Innovation Centre Thursday, 19 September - St John’s Hall, Penzance Friday, 20 September - Helston Town Hall Monday, 23 September - Roche Victory Hall Wednesday, 25 September - St Germans Community Centre Friday, 27 September - Millennium House, Pensilva Monday, 30 September - Newquay Treviglas Community College Wednesday, 2 October - Falcon Hotel, Bude Thursday, 3 October - Mabe Village Hall Friday, 4 October - Council Chamber, County Hall, Truro Monday 7 October - Frank Johns Centre, Hayle Wednesday, 9 October - Clease Hall, Camelford.

The authority will also be launching 'YouChoose', an online budget simulator, on its website during October which will give people the opportunity to try and balance the budget for themselves.

“YouChoose will enable people in Cornwall to try making the difficult decisions on how and where to spend the reducing amount of money available to the Council” explained Alex Folkes.

“People will be able to choose how much money to give individual services and to see the impact of any cuts in funding. We will then use what they tell us to help inform our budget setting process both for next year and for the next few years”.

The results of the consultation will be fed back to the cabinet and the council’s portfolio advisory committees to consider before the budget is finalised.