Survey highlights safety fears

PUBLIC safety has been highlighted as the major issue people living in west Suffolk want tackled, a survey has found.More than 800 people sent in responses to a questionnaire from St Edmundsbury Borough Council as part of a county-wide project called Suffolk Speaks, which was designed to give the public a chance to have its say on future council spending.

PUBLIC safety has been highlighted as the major issue people living in west Suffolk want tackled, a survey has found.

More than 800 people sent in responses to a questionnaire from St Edmundsbury Borough Council as part of a county-wide project called Suffolk Speaks, which was designed to give the public a chance to have its say on future council spending.

Feedback from residents showed nearly 60% wanted more spending on community safety and crime prevention.

The next biggest areas of concern flagged up by the survey were the provision of lower cost homes, waste collection, street cleaning and play areas.


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Asked what they wanted less money spent on, residents pointed to pub licensing, heritage, car parks and grants to the community.

The same survey found nearly 50% of people in St Edmundsbury wanted services provided by the council kept as they are and were content with a moderate increase in council tax.

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Gerry Kiernan, chairman of the council's policy development committee, which will discuss the survey findings on January 8, said the results were interesting.

He said some of the areas highlighted by the public as deserving a cut in funding were often instrumental in helping achieve those issues people wanted tackling.

An example, he said, was community grants which often played an important role in improving community safety.

Mr Kiernan added: “The results are not that surprising because public safety is such a big issue. It is important that the council takes notice of what people think and to explain what we spend money on, and why, better.

“Suffolk is the safest county in England for crime numbers and it is important to remember that. At the same time, the low crime rate also provides a great opportunity to direct more resources to improving public safety.”

In terms of heritage, Mr Kiernan said people might not visit art galleries themselves but such facilities could act as an investment magnate to employers which brought jobs and money to an area.

The survey also found that people living in the borough want visitors to towns like Bury and Haverhill to stump up more money to help pay for the facilities they use.

For example, more than 80% of residents want those who actually use car parks to pay for them.

The survey also found 80% of borough residents wanted those who enjoy the arts, festivals and leisure centres to fund more of the costs of running them.

When it came to country parks and toilets, most residents felt the council tax should be used to pay for them.

FACTFILE

People in St Edmundsbury's top five areas for more money being spent:

nPublic safety

nLower cost homes

nWaste collection

nStreet cleaning

nPlay areas.

Five areas residents of St Edmundsbury want less money spent on:

nPub licensing

nHeritage

nPlanning

nCar parks

nGrants to the community.

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