HAMPSHIRE residents  could see further cuts to services and increase in fees over the coming years as the county council continues its battle to balance the books.

Cutting health promotion services such as those to prevent tooth decay in young children, switching street lights off for longer hours, council tax increases, and charging residents  for services that are currently free are among the measures that Hampshire County Council (HCC) could take in  a bid to save £80m by 2021.

According to a document published as part of a public consultation, opening hours at some or all libraries across the county could be reduced, residents who want to dispose of non-household wood waste such as fence panels and sheds could be charged, and visitors could be charged a fee to park at some countryside sites.

The document also says that  the Oral Health Promotion Service and the biannual oral health survey for five-year-olds could be withdrawn and some children could experience increased tooth decay as a result of reduced oral health promotion services.

The proposed changes were revealed last week when HCC launched a public consultation to ask residents to have their say on how the authority could save £80m by 2021.

Residents are asked their opinion on introducing and increasing charges for some services, lobbying central government for legislative change, using the county council’s reserves, reducing and changing services, increasing council tax, generating additional income and changing local government arrangements in Hampshire.

In the online survey residents are asked to rank each of the aforementioned options for balancing the county council’s budget by order of preference.

Th authority said the £80m are driven by  further reductions in central government funding, increases in demand for some services, rising costs and inflationary pressures that are expected over a two-year period.

The money will add to the £480m that the authority has been already saved over the past 11 years.

Residents have time until July 17 at 11.59pm to have their say on the range of options that could contribute towards balancing the budget.

Councillor Keith Mans, leader of HCC, said: “We would like to hear from as many Hampshire residents and stakeholders as possible to help us understand and consider the potential impact of any changes proposed.

“The views submitted through this consultation will be collated and used to inform discussions at executive member, select committee, cabinet and council budget proposal meetings during 2019.

“No prior decisions have been made regarding the proposals.”  

To take part in the consultation, go to hants.gov.uk/balancingthebudget.

Paper copies can be requested by emailing insight@hants.gov.uk or calling 0300 555 1375, and will also be available from Hampshire libraries.