Society’s initial stance on borough service cuts package

Chesterfield and District Civic Society will be contributing to Chesterfield Borough Council’s ‘conversation’ on its proposals for cuts and changes in service delivery – with its main objective as trying to preserve as much quality as possible in everyday civic life. But the society has already indicated it is against what will be the effective closure of the town’s visitor and information centre on Rykneld Square.

The Society understands that Chesterfield Borough Council needs to make service cuts, as it is predicting a £4 million budget shortfall. This is the result of the cumulative effect of reductions from central government funding, inflation, and the lingering negative impact of Covid.

A package of what are effectively service cuts was announced at the council’s cabinet meeting on 14 November, followed by a period of ‘conversation’ with residents and stakeholders.

Says Civic Society Chairman Howard Borrell; ‘We will be contributing to the “conversation” that the council is holding. We’ll look at proposals on the basis of whether withdrawal of a service or altering how it is delivered is beneficial or not, or has neutral impact, to what we are terming as the overall civic good of the borough.’

‘For example, one issue already identified could be effective closure of the visitor information centre, with a move to so-called digital delivery. We already think that this will not be beneficial to the town. It will have too many negative impacts on both our visitor economy and how our residents will be able to access information about what’s happening in the town and surrounding area.’

‘We are not going to get into the politics of this, but it is an undoubted fact that the major contributor to all this is the successive removal of central government funding to local authorities. Many other councils are facing similar challenges and difficult decisions, but we need to make sure that the things contributing to everyday life in the town don’t unduly suffer’.

The society is due to consider the council’s proposals at a committee meeting, but in the meantime is already encouraging residents to sign the on-line petition against closure of the visitor information centre or in-person at the centre. The on-line petition can be found here.

Members of the public and other stakeholders our encouraged to complete the council’s ‘conversation’ survey here. The Civic Society has, however, expressed some reservations about the council’s budget ‘conversation’ survey. It feels the survey provides very limited background detail to enable the participant to make a full and knowledgeable response.

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