ON THE face of it, the opportunity provided by Southampton City Council to have your say in where the axe should fall on the authority’s budget is democracy at work.

On the other hand, by putting the proposals before the city’s residents for them to decide could be seen as an abdication of duty by elected members.

The need to find £15m worth of cuts is vexing the council’s Labour ruling body. Even with the proposals they have outlined, including cutting back museum opening hours and axing 100 jobs, there is a £1.4m shortfall in the budget for the coming financial year.

As we report today (page 9) time is running out for residents to have their say. But in truth, well meaning as this exercise may be, there is little room for manoeuvre by the council whatever the feedback. Few either/or choices exist if the authority is to meet the budget that it must by law.

And there is worse to come in the future.

The council must find £48m in cuts by 2017.

This is no way to run local government, but this is not the fault of the present ruling group nor previous administrations but a lack of will by all parties at national level to make radical changes to the way local councils are structured and their responsibilities.