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PUBLISHED: 11:59 12 January 2007 | UPDATED: 22:30 28 May 2010

CLLR KEITH WALTERS: “Huge pressure on services.”

CLLR KEITH WALTERS: "Huge pressure on services."

SO few people turned up in recent years in Wisbech to debate the Cambridgeshire County Council budget that this year s public meeting has been scrapped. The only opportunity people in Fenland now have to take issue with county council leader Councillor Ke

SO few people turned up in recent years in Wisbech to debate the Cambridgeshire County Council budget that this year's public meeting has been scrapped.

The only opportunity people in Fenland now have to take issue with county council leader Councillor Keith Walters will be in March, where townsfolk have a better record of attendance.

"We have cut down on the number of surgeries," said Bob Pearson, the county's director of communications. "There is, however, ample opportunity for anyone to have their say. There are leaflets in every library, and people are welcome to go to our website and make known their views."

Mr Pearson denied that the county council had delivered a snub to Wisbech since "we have gone to Wisbech in recent years but sadly the numbers attending have been low."

Last year only five members of the public turned up, an increase of one on meetings held in the two previous years.

Meanwhile at March Library, which hosts a public meeting next Tuesday (between 5.30pm and 7pm, attendance has blossomed. Last year, Mr Pearson said, there were 11 members of the public present.

He said the county council spends about £540million each year providing public services. About half of this goes directly to schools and more than £100million goes towards caring for older people and those with disabilities.

The public will have a chance to quiz the Conservative leader, Cllr Walters, and other political spokesmen, over the proposal to increase council tax by five per cent.

Even this, say county councillors, is not sufficient to maintain all levels of service.

Cllr Walters said the panel visiting March wants to hear what services the public feel should be treated as priorities.

"Cambridgeshire's growing population is putting huge pressure on all services especially social care," he said. "These events are an important part of our budget consultation and we will listen to all views expressed to us.

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