Thousands get say in council budget consultation

THOUSANDS of council taxpayers have had their say on controversial plans to shut public toilets and slash sports spending.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 28th January 2015, 11:45 am
The council budget consultation has been under way. Picture: Scott Louden
The council budget consultation has been under way. Picture: Scott Louden

Five times as many people took part in the city budget consultation than last year.

They were keen to give feedback on plans for allotments, library opening hours, homelessness, early years and adult education and leisure centres.

And 1719 people used the new “online planner” on the council website, which allowed residents to submit their own spending ideas.

The council received a total of 3525 responses to the consultation, including 782 telephone calls, e-mails and letters, 145 leaflets returned with comments and 524 comments through social media.

A budget question time event was also attended by more than 40 people and viewed by 200 on the live webcast and watched another 862 times using a catch-up service. Issues raised included concerns about a reduction in funding for Edinburgh Leisure, higher rents for allotments, reductions in voluntary sector grants, changes in library opening hours, an end to painting white lines on sports pitches and closure of some public loos.

The council said the consultation process cost less than £18,000.

Finance convener Councillor Alasdair Rankin said: “I would like to thank the thousands of residents and businesses who took part in this open and democratic 11-week engagement and consultation process.

“A broad range of channels were used to ensure that everyone had their opportunity to have their say as an individual and/or as a group to influence how the council should invest and save money.”

He said the online planner had proven successful and that the suggestions made would be considered.

“We ensured it was promoted to all age groups and people from all walks of life to help us understand more fully where Edinburgh residents think council money should be invested and saved,” he said.

“We will be taking this success and working with people right through the year to develop a more participatory process.”

“This [the online planner] will help us to make the right decisions for our residents now and in the future when setting our budget.”