A second opportunity for anyone with web access to raise questions about the council’s budget - and receive an immediate response – has now been organised.
The move came following the success of the council’s first live ‘budget webchat’ last night, where members of the public logged on and ‘discussed’ budget issues with the council leader and senior officers.
On hand to provide an immediate response were Councillor Dick Walsh, chief executive Sally Loudon, executive director of customer services Douglas Hendry and head of strategic finance Bruce West.
Those who took part commented how useful the session had been, and suggested that it would be good to have a further one before the end of the budget consultation period on November 28.
In response to those suggestions, a second webchat has now been arranged for Tuesday, November 22 from 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
Councillor Walsh was delighted by the success of the first session, saying: “Those who logged on took part in a very positive way and raised some important and interesting issues, which we will of course be feeding back into the consultation process.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage with the general public during the budget consultation, and feedback last year suggested that people would like more opportunities to do things online.
“These webchats give everyone - regardless of location - the chance to ‘speak’ directly to me and the council’s most senior officers, and the comments we received from those who took part in this last night were overwhelmingly positive.”
The council has to save £74million by 2015, of which £64million has already been identified by work done in previous years.
“We’re now working hard to find ways to make the additional savings while protecting frontline services,” Councillor Walsh said.
“It is vital that we gather the views of as many people as possible during this consultation period. Last year, feedback from the consultation resulted in more money being allocated to roads and cuts to the education service kept to a minimum – in line with what the majority of respondents suggested should be priorities.
“I would encourage anyone who is able to log on to our website between 12.30pm and 1.30pm on Tuesday to make the most of the opportunity to give us their views. I very much look forward to ‘chatting’ to those who manage to take part.”
Anyone who would like to take part in the web chat should go online at www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/budgetchat on Tuesday, November 22 at 12.30pm. On hand to answer their questions will be Councillor Walsh, Sally Loudon, Douglas Hendry and Bruce West. They will be joined for the first half an hour by executive director of community services Cleland Sneddon.
The transcript of last night’s budget webchat is available at http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/budget-chat-transcript-16th-november-2011.
The council’s budget proposals have been out for consultation since the middle of last month. The consultation period ends on Monday, November 28.