Oxfordshire County Council has asked residents to say how much we value their services, and which ones we can do without, because they want to make cuts of another £60 million pounds.
It seems that many people don't appreciate how people benefit from council services, unless they hear personal stories from a friend.
Here is a place you can tell your story of your experiences of council services in Oxfordshire. Do you go to a day care centre, get home helps, take your children to a school or centre, drive or cycle around potholes, use libraries or museums, walk in the country parks, dispose of rubbish, ...? Fill in the box below, giving a short account of your story, and your views on council services.
All stories will be used by the Oxfordshire Green Party in preparing our response to the consultation, and in drafting a Green budget for the county.
Please tell us your stories.
In July I just moved back up to Oxford to live in a sheltered housing complex where I could care for my elderly disabled mother. During a brief period between scheme managers seemed like a good opportunity for some residents to throw out unwanted items for city collection. The person who took over was told that the former manager would make a call on their behalf when a pick-up was needed and they could all toss out up to three items a year without being charged for removal. This is not a great idea; first of all how do you keep track of which people have already had three items hauled away and second did they really need to go to the tip? For a while the bin area beneath the windows of my flat became a fly tipping haven as a few residents focused on a good old clear out. Most of these items really did not need to go to the tip and could have been donated to charity. I tried to salvage a few things. On three occasions two of us tried to put a perfectly serviceable mattress inside under shelter so that it did not become spoiled and could be picked up by Emmaus. Sadly tenants determinedly dragged it back outside until it got thoroughly soaked in a downpour. The truck that came to haul items away would park right under my bedroom window and the workman made a hell of a racket hurling things into the back early in the morning. The most distressing removal that I witnessed was a beautiful hardwood table top and four sturdy legs all in excellent condition. I had seen this fabulous large six foot by three foot table stored in a hall space and felt certain it was waiting to be picked up by one of the charities. If I had known the intended fate of that piece of furniture I would have called the charity stores myself; I almost cried it was such a wicked shame. I was a medical volunteer in Aceh after the Boxing Day tsunami where people lost everything they owned; there was real need and people made the best use of what they had left. I have suffered losses myself in the past and I became extremely distressed over the wanton waste where I lived. Thankfully the pace of disposal has now slowed. This was just one appalling example of people so totally absorbed in themselves that they failed to comprehend the environmental impact. People who claim they do not have time to deal with appropriate disposal really should pay for their items to be removed as this service is an extra cost to all of us. I am absolutely passionate about recycling, not only because I abhor unnecessary waste, but also as I hate to see good land earmarked for more landfill. This constant reliance on landfill in just not sustainable and must be reduced to an absolute minimum. The offer to remove three items a year without charge simply encourages people to not bother making any alternative arrangements for disposal. This policy should be changed, with a possible discretionary option not to charge a fee, but only under really exceptional circumstances. An example would be a vulnerable, cash-strapped, elderly or disabled person trying to get rid of an item that is not at all salvageable or recyclable. In all other circumstances a fee should be charged for each and every item that is removed. A flyer could be circulated to housing complexes with a list of options: first consider a repair, repaint, renovate or re-cover. Baring that, suggest numbers for charities that will pick up goods to be resold, some will even refurnish items; even broken items and distressed furniture can be given away on freegle; a manufacturer can be paid a very minimal fee to take away your dysfunctional fridge or your old mattress for recycling at the same time they deliver your new one. All of these are viable options that must be considered before cramming another piece of bulky furniture like that splendid table into landfill. Charging for removal of items to be taken to landfill would cover the cost of this service while strongly discouraging such a thoughtless option. I realize it is not often that a citizen will say please charge us for this service, but I think it is called for in this case.