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Council Budget blog focuses on swimming pools, community centres, museums and libraries

Issued: 19 May 2010

The Highland Council's budget blog will today (19 May) switch its focus to swimming pools, museums and libraries.

The blog was launched on Monday 10 May when the public was asked to comment on school issues and will continue to look at different aspects of the Council's spending every week until the blog closes at the end of June.

Nearly 1,100 people have viewed the blog pages, 100 have signed up to take part in the discussion so far and the Council has received around 50 comments on school issues.

Budget Leader David Alston is pleased with the constructive response to the blog, which complements a series of public meetings and discussions with specific groups, such as Highland Youth Voice. The Council will soon be surveying its new citizen's panel of over 2,000 people about the budget and other areas such as satisfaction with Council services.

The Council is consulting over options that have been proposed by Services to identify budget savings of £36 million over the next three years. These options are clearly set out in two budget documents which can be accessed via the home page of our web site: www.highland.gov.uk.

The new posting on the blog says the Council is looking to reduce costs in the running of the large number of community facilities it owns and is having to look at different options for these facilities for the future including:

  1. closure of some facilities in order to maintian others;
  2. reduction in opening hours;
  3. using public buildings differently and more flexibly providing services and space for different needs and groups;
  4. transferring the ownership and/or the management of some facilities to not-for-profit organisations; and
  5. increasing charges for the use of facilities.

Councillor Alston said: "I am very pleased with the response to the on-line discussion. Responses have been measured and constructive. It is also attracting interest from other councils, who will be facing exactly the same challenges as us in Highland.

"We will give a summary of previous strands of consultation on the blog and all comments will be collated and a summary of views will be fed into the process."

In addition to response on the blog, the Council has received 40 completed web questionnaires and around 130 email responses over 100 letters and 20 freedom of information enquiries on the budget.

The next budget consultation meeting takes place at the Duthac Centre, Tain on Monday 24 May.

Other meetings planned are:

  • 31 May: Joint Lochaber Ward Forum - Nevis Centre, Fort William;
  • 1 June: Inverness Landward Ward Forum - Culloden Academy;
  • 9 June: East Sutherland Edderton Ward Forum - Brora
  • 14 June: Skye Ward Forum - Portree
  • 16 June: Dingwall and Seaforth Ward Forum - Dingwall
  • 17 June: Cromarty Firth Ward Forum - Ardross
  • 18 June: Highland Youth Voice - Sleat, Skye
  • 21 June: Wester Ross, Strathpeffer and Lochalsh Ward Forum - Lochcarron
  • 22 June: Inverness City Ward Forum - Town House, Inverness
  • 23 June: Badenoch and Strathspey Ward Forum - Boat of Garten
  • 30 June: Nairn Ward Forum - Nairn
© 2010 Highland Public Services Partnership.
Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme