WE ARE asking for your views on the Council’s proposed budget for 2016/16.

You may have heard some of the headlines. We are proposing a 1.94 per cent Council Tax increase.

We are seeking to decommission the remaining Children’s Centres (although the buildings will then be handed back for other children-based uses).

We are starting the process to save about £1.4million – that’s 65 per cent – of the cost of the library service. We are also looking to find ways to remove the entire tax payer subsidy from Lydiard Park and House. Even with all this, we still have a £2.7m gap that officers will have to find ways to fill since we must, by law, present a balanced budget next February.

Since our finances are so tight, we have to be clear and precise about what the Council wants to do.

We have made a virtue of necessity out of this by challenging ourselves about the activities that can bring about the greatest benefits or stimulate the most significant changes.

We will of course continue to lobby central government with our local MPs to secure more funding, but we cannot rely on this. Our fate is in our own hands, and that means making decisions.

In this challenging environment, we have developed our Vision with its four priorities and 30 pledges. These provide our framework to make sure the public money we spend produces the best results. That means, first and foremost, we will continue to support Swindon’s economic growth and wealth creation.

You can read what the Council is actually proposing in detail in the Committee and Member Information pages on the Council’s website. Look at the Cabinet meeting on September 9 for more about the Vision and the meeting on December 9 for the draft 2016/17 budget.

Unfortunately, some people have chosen to misrepresent what the Council is considering. On Lydiard House and Park, for instance, let me repeat the Council’s position: we will not sell the House or Park.

What we will do is explore every opportunity to make this asset sustainable, which means freeing Lydiard from dependency on a tax payer subsidy for its running costs as well as paying for maintenance and improvements.

For some residents the focus is on the possible decommissioning of Children’s Centres, while for others the area of concern is the possibility of a completely different way of running libraries.

I welcome alternative suggestions. If children’s centres are to remain open, we will need to find a £600k saving somewhere. To keep all the current library buildings, some of which are open for barely 10 hours a week, we need to £1.4m of savings elsewhere.