September 23 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, March 1, 2014
People in Felixstowe are to be asked for their views on a wide range of community services to help the town council allocate funding in the future.
A questionnaire is to be sent out to households asking about the importance of services run by councils and those managed by a variety of other organisations, including voluntary groups, to establish the priority people put on them and how well they are used.
Councillors have stressed that the results will not necessarily mean they invest in certain activities, but will give them guidance when considering how to target resources.
In the past two years the council has started a community fund to help pay for services, facilities and activities which may be lost if other councils or groups wield the cost-cutting axe, or could be divested to the town council.
The fund is expected to stand at around £285,000 by 2018.
Town clerk Gordon Mussett said the questionnaire would go to house number one in every street at the resort, ensuring that all areas were covered and targeting a cross-section of people of all ages and family groups.
He said: “The aim is to see how residents value services, whether they currently use those services and whether they feel they should be supported in some way or another.
“Whether to fund activities will be an analysis undertaken later.”
The town council has agreed to press ahead with the project but councillors stressed that care needed to be taken with the wording of the questionnaire and it was decided that councillors Jan Garfield, Andy Smith and Kimberley Williams should form a task group to deal with the detail.
Mr Smith said he felt the survey should ask people to judge the importance of each activity listed as either “essential, desirable or unnecessary”.
Ms Williams said: “We represent all the people of Felixstowe and should be encouraging feedback from our residents, not just when we are campaigning on the doorstep for the ballot box.
“We should be asking their opinion on a regular basis to find out what services they require, what we should be providing, and what they aspire to, and this will become increasingly important as we move towards localism.”
Councillor Mike Deacon said: “I welcome this initiative – it’s a very good idea and very relevant.”
Not everyone agreed though. Councillor Stuart Bird felt there was a danger the survey would create expectations and the council would make itself a hostage to fortune, while councillor Doreen Savage also felt people might assume the council would take action.
Mr Bird said: “If we go ahead with this, I think we should make it clear which services this council provides at the moment so that people have a clear understanding.”