All suggestions about ways in which Birmingham City Council should deliver huge public spending cuts will be published as part of a unique consultation exercise.
Chief executive Stephen Hughes has promised that everything said at public meetings, and comments made on a live internet blog discussion he is leading, will be recorded and the details passed to councillors, who must decide how savings of about £400 million can be achieved by 2015.
Mr Hughes said he had been pleased at the response of people attending the meetings and taking part in the internet debate, and he stressed that no decisions have yet been taken about the cuts.
However, one proposal, that the council should save money simply by defaulting on its loans, has been ruled out as illegal.
Mr Hughes explained: “At both meetings, people have expressed strong feelings about the broader economy, suggesting that we should not have to make any savings, or that we could default on repayment of our loans.
“I argued that the latter is not feasible because, as a statutory body, the council is obliged to obey the law, and this means re-paying money that we borrow, as well as ensuring that our expenditure doesn’t exceed our income.
“Comments about the scale of the savings programme that councils have been asked to work to are something that should be addressed to central government.”
The probability of cuts to social services budgets have provoked the most opposition.
A plan to scrap council-funded care packages to about 4,000 people whose needs are substantial have been dropped after a judicial review found the council had acted unlawfully by deciding to save the money without proper consultation.
However, the £53 million that would have been saved by shifting care provision to the independent sector, as well as £5 million from a postponed shake-up of home to school transport, must still be found by the council.
A final decision will be made at the end of February next year.
As well as attending public meetings, people can make their views known about the council budget by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org, or texting by starting a new message with the word ‘Budget’ followed by a space and sending to: 07786 200 403.