I’M sure you will be well aware that the council has been asking people for their views on two very important issues over the past months: the Community Governance Review of parish boundaries in the borough, and the future of our library service.

The consultation periods for both end tomorrow, so if you want to have your say and haven’t yet, you’ve not got much time left.

We’ve done everything we can to let people know about both these issues, with public meetings, drop-in events, and information leaflets delivered by Royal Mail to every home in the borough, and we’ve employed all sorts of communications channels, including social media, to get the word out.

We have contacted as many groups and people who would be interested or affected by these potential changes as we can, and for some time – it was actually back in December when we started consultation on the parishes issue, and February for our proposals for libraries, so it’s been the best part of a year.

It’s fair to say we have done much more than we are legally required to do, but for issues that are this important I think it’s right that we have done that.

Some people have told us that they believe we made our minds up a long time ago about the final outcomes, and the consultations are merely window dressing.

It’s certainly true that we made our minds up firmly on what we wanted to consult about, but that’s very different to it all being a foregone conclusion. It isn’t.

I’m grateful to the many hundreds of people who have sent in comments, attended the meetings, and the drop-in events.

I know that there are some committed and passionate people with strong views about these subjects and I want to reassure them that we are listening to them.

When we consult we do it because we genuinely want to know what people think, and what alternative ideas they might have. We have amended our proposals many times in the past on various issues in response to the feedback we’ve received.

The next stage will be for us to consider the responses and draw up the proposals for the council’s cabinet members to consider and decide upon, which in the case of the parish boundary proposals will be at the meeting on October 19, while the future shape of the library service will be considered in December.

Thanks again to all who took the time to give their views – it is appreciated.