Woolwich Town Hall
It is the first time Greenwich has asked residents for its input into budget plans

Greenwich Council leader Danny Thorpe has launched a consultation into how the council should spend its money next year – warning the council is now “at the end of the line” in protecting vital services.

The consultation is the first time since the government’s austerity policies began that the council has asked residents what its priorities should be as it prepares to set its budget for the year ahead.

Other councils have done similar in recent years – Lewisham went as far as to launch a Big Budget Challenge in 2014, when both it and neighbouring Bexley used online simulators to explain council budgets to residents.

Greenwich’s approach is simpler – a short series of questions about priorities. One question asks if the council should use “efficiency savings” – one that was mocked by Conservative leader Matt Hartley at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Addressing council leader Danny Thorpe, Hartley said: “Perhaps he could give some examples of waste and inefficiencies? If he would like, I could provide a list.”

Thorpe responded that “the issue of finance and budget setting for local government was… not for Punch and Judy politics”, adding: “The idea that there are any examples of waste and inefficiency in this council is a disgraceful one – his party has presided over eight years of destruction of public services.”

He added that the council was “now at the end of the line in being able to protect frontline services”.

Referring to a social media row Hartley had last year with the head of Charlton Manor primary school – who had criticised government policy on a school Twitter account – Thorpe said: “I am happy to walk you around Charlton Manor to see the impact of school cuts, which is something I see you still decline to take up.”

Earlier in the day, Thorpe had launched the consultation on Twitter, where one resident gave a pointed response.

Residents can take part in the consultation on the Greenwich Council website.

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