Opposition anger over consultation

OPPOSITION Liberal Democrats at Endeavour House have hit out at Suffolk County Council's lack of consultation in the run-up to next month's debate on its New Strategic Direction.

But the administration at the county insists that its consultation will continue over the next two years as major changes are introduced into the way the council operates.

The council is holding a number of roadshows in 10 different towns across the county to gauge public opinion on its plans, which could include 'divesting' a number of services to the private and voluntary sectors.

The Liberal Democrats are annoyed that all these events occur after Monday's deadline for submissions to the full council meeting to be held on December 2 and point out that one of these events is even planned for the December 3, after the council has made its decision.

Liberal Democrat Caroline Page said: 'It is shocking to think that with a policy this significant for the future of the county; the people of Suffolk have been given such a limited time to respond.

'The administration needs to allow the public to have a real say about the New Strategic Direction, and not just plough on regardless.

'The people of Suffolk have been given barely three weeks to tell us what they think. Even then, the online survey gives you no chance to reject these potentially disastrous proposals!

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'Surely it is only good practice to consult with users of the service first, before changes on such a large scale are voted through, and not the other way round.'

Council leader Jeremy Pembroke insisted that the opposition had 'missed the point' in its criticisms of the consultation.

He said: 'We will be consulting with the people of Suffolk every step of the way over the next two years. The meeting in December is not the end of the consultation – it is just a step on the way.

'We will be discussing the responses in January and the whole consultation is an ongoing process – I really feel the opposition has missed the point with this.'

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