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A UNIQUE public debate on the tough spending choices facing Devon County Council is being launched today.
It’s part of the council’s Tough Choices campaign which will spell out to local people the difficult decisions the authority faces and seek their views on the best way forward.
Throughout the autumn, county council leader John Hart will host a series of public meetings across Devon.
He said: “All public bodies are facing tough choices on how to reduce costs and save money.
“This means taking a fresh look at everything we do and what things are most important.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to join this debate."
A jobs freeze had been imposed on all but essential front-line staff, the council’s departments had been streamlined, councillors’ allowances had been frozen and all workers were subject to the national pay freeze.
But there would still be tough choices to be taken as the county council worked towards setting a budget for the 2011/12 financial year.
People attending the public meetings will be invited to play a special Devon board game with a breakdown of every penny the county council spends on the various services for residents.
They will be asked to reduce the total amount spent there by a specific percentage.
Councillors and officials will be on hand to explain the implications of each suggested cut and what happens if some areas are safeguarded and bigger reductions made in other areas.
The process will give people the chance to see the kind of tough choices councillors will be facing as they prepare to set a budget next spring.
For those who can’t get to the meetings there’s more information on Devon’s website about possible budget choices and the chance to take part in an online survey and answer questions about ways to save money or raise income.
Mr Hart said: "We are not attempting to abdicate the duties we were elected to fulfil. Ultimately we will take the tough decisions.
"But we want to spell out to as many people as possible what the options are, hear their views on what services we should safeguard and where they think we might make savings and how we could improve the way we work locally."
The website is at www.toughchoices.co.uk
The public meetings will all start at 6.30pm at: