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Nwicker60
26-Sep-12, 13:20
Council budget blog focuses on community involvement in public services

THE latest topic for discussion on Highland Council’s budget consultation blog asks the public if there is scope for communities to become more involved in keeping their towns and villages tidy by running local services.
The question is posed by Councillor Dave Fallows, Chairman of the Council’s Finance Resources and Housing Committee, on his budget blog which encourages comment on proposals to deliver council services more efficiently and effectively.
The blog complements a budget consultation exercise the Council is embarking on to identify major savings in 2013-14 and 2014-15. The council holds the 10th of 12 public meetings at Rosebank Primary School, Nairn, tomorrow (Wednesday), starting at 6.30 pm.
In his blog, Councillor Fallows writes: “We currently spend 2.8m on grounds maintenance, including grass cutting on road verges, grass cutting in parks and public spaces and the maintenance of flower beds. We also spend 3.1m every year on street cleaning and litter picking. Should the council reduce the frequency that we cut grass, clean the streets or the time spent on litter picking? Or might that be a false economy if the image of our largely tourism based economy is damaged? Are there ways in which we can encourage communities to become involved in this work as well in a bid to at least maintain services whilst making savings?”
Councillor Fallows believes there are some circumstances in which a community initiative - even at a very local level - can provide the same or better services than the council can, and at lower cost. The council, he added, had agreed to provide a 1million Challenge Fund to be available to get good ideas for provision of services going in local communities.
He asks: “Do you think that we should be encouraging communities to take on the running of some services for themselves, and if so, which?”
The budget consultation will run until 31 October. The blog is prominently featured on the home page of the council’s web site: www.highland.gov.uk (http://www.highland.gov.uk/)
What do you think? Should we give the council a helping hand with snow clearing, grass cutting and litter collection, to help it balance its books or are we paying for these services through council tax? Feel free to post your views on the forum.
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