Thursday, September 16, 2010

Local budget consultation meeting

Forgot to mention a local budget consultation meeting I attended last night - as part of the Council's attempt to engage with the wider community about the financial challenges they are now facing ... specific details of the meetings here, and more general details here.

I've very much welcomed the moves that the local SNP/Lib-Dem coalition have made in attempting to change the way the Council budget is set ... but, unfortunately, the meeting last night was a bit of a shambles: there's really no kinder way to put it :-(

Only 40 members of the public turned up, that was across 4-Wards of the Council - so something like 0.05% of the population!

There was clearly significant annoyance at the way the whole meeting was managed and many of those 40 members of the public simply refused to participate in the 'voting' that took place as they obviously felt that the questions were frankly 'loaded'.

It was not a good advertisement for how to get local involvement - most people will have left the hall dispirited, of that I'm sure :-(

Worse than all of that really, was the complete lack of any leadership shown by the Administration politicians present ... apart from a few words of introduction, the Officials were left to handle the evening and all of the questions? Bizarre.

I know what will now happen - the Officials will be blamed for botching the process, despite the fact that they were obviously given no proper lead on how to manage the event.

Excuse my language; but p*ss up and brewery come to mind :-((


Edward Harkins said...

Andrew, it's good that you give this issue of consultation, or engagement, an airing (so much confusion before we even include 'participation' – just please let’s not come up with any waffle about ‘empowerment’ ;-)

If we are to get through what is coming in Scottish society, we need a lot more people with the competentance and capacity to meaningfully and productively engage on the issues.

In the regeneration field I have recurrently experienced this as one of the Great Neglected Issues.

Of course, the critical challenge is that meaningful engagement and participation often require a transfer, sharing, or even relinquishing of power.

Andrew said...


Many thanks for the comment. I agree that this is an oft-neglected area and will become ever-more important in coming months/years.

I think there has been some slight improvement in the next couple of local Budget Meetings, but still hear lots of grumbling about the strngth of the process.

Not claiming I've got all the answers but I do feel very strongly that the current local political leadership rely far too much on Officers leading these events, when it would be much better (I think) if they just grasped the nettle and led from the front a bit more ...

... at least they'd get a bit more respect, even if people didn't agree with them!