Councillors have expressed their disappointment after very few people turned up to a meeting about next year's council budget. 

Salisbury City Councillors and officers gathered at The Guildhall at 6.30pm on Monday, December 4, hoping to hear concerns from the public on the budget for the upcoming year.

Councillor Victoria Charleston said: “We have said as a council we are committed to trying to listen to people more and hoping that they feel heard more, so this is part of that journey.”

This comes after last year's budget, which increased council tax by 44 per cent, proved rather controversial, resulting in a Salisbury City parish poll which cost taxpayers nearly £40,000.

Only 3.9 per cent of city voted in the poll, held to decide whether the people of Salisbury would support a five percent cap on future increases to the Salisbury City Council precept and a parish consultation if any proposed increase is larger than five per cent.

On Monday, the members of the public were greatly outnumbered by councillors and officers.

At the meeting, Cllr Charleston provided an outline of which services the city council provides as opposed to Wiltshire Council and what costs the largest portions of the budget.

Cllr Charleston said an anticipated increase of the precept would see the amount paid by a band D property rise by 75p per week in April 2024, which would amount to around £38.48 per year.

The council employed a unique method of facilitating conversation on various subjects, with tables for discussion on topics such as events and communications, environmental services and community services.

SEE ALSO: Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre closed until after new year

Councillors expressed disappointment that more people did not brave the cold and rain to engage with them and raise concerns about the budget.

At the close of the meeting, Cllr Charleston said: “We were hoping for more but we will try again and we will keep trying to talk to people.”

Conservative Councillor Sven Hocking said he was disappointed with the lack of engagement from the public and did not believe the low turnout was due to a lack of effort from the council to make the public aware of the event.

Cllr Hocking said: “I’m in the opposition to the administration, but you can’t say that the administration have not tried to be more engaging with the public.”

Cllr Charleston said: “I’m obviously disappointed with the turnout. It would have been great to have more people there to engage but I’m pleased that we did it and pleased that we gave people the opportunity to listen to what we had to say and it’s really important we take aboard their thoughts back. I would do it again next year.

“I would also remind people that they can always contact their councillor and feed in comments and thoughts on any part of the council work.”

The City Council issued a public notice about the meeting on Thursday, November 23 and an article was published by the Salisbury Journal on Friday, November 24.