I THINK it is uncharitable of Jill Huish to suggest the county council is “asking stupid questions” (Oxford Mail, January 27) when asking Oxfordshire’s residents which services should be cut in order to keep children’s centres open.

The situation the council faces is frankly unenviable. It is a hard fact that, by law, the council is required to balance its annual budget.

It is also a fact that the council cannot rely on as much income as in previous years, and therefore can only balance the books by reducing expenditure The fanciful notion that residents would willingly vote to raise council tax to avoid any cuts is unhelpful and unrealistic – it would only waste thousands of ratepayers’ pounds on a referendum that would be lost, and we’d still have to make savings to balance the budget afterwards.

Asking residents where savings should be made is therefore far from a stupid question; it is recognising that it’s Oxfordshire’s residents who feel the impact of the council’s decisions, and their views ought to be taken into account.

To say that such an attitude is “stupid” does nothing to advance the cause of keeping children’s centres open, and arguably damages the very cause they seek to advance.

Many Conservative voters share Ms Huish’s concern that those in most need should not be left behind as the council balances the books, and indeed are keen to cull waste and unnecessary spending precisely so that those in society who most need help are able to have it.

Cllr Hudspeth and his team deserve a little more credit for actively listening to Oxfordshire’s residents, trying to meet their needs, and for fighting our corner with the Westminster government.

I have to say that the most conspicuous aspect of this whole process has been the distinct absence of a credible alternative to meeting the county budget challenges from any other party.

Deputy Chairman, Oxford East Conservatives