Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 12:03 GMT on Saturday, 10th November 2012.
1% cuts consultation rate is “a success for local democracy”

NORTH Lanarkshire Council have welcomed the 1% respondent rate to the ‘Way Ahead’ consultation, which seeks to gather the opinion of North Lanarkshire residents towards the local authority’s £73.3 million cuts.


North Lanarkshire Council’s Labour Leader called the public consultation “a success for local democracy”, despite the 1% respondent rate, which is followed by the news that the document hadn’t made it to half of the local authority’s 148,000 households.


The exercise which ended on Friday, after a six-week project, has received 3000 responses, compared with 2163 responses.to a similar consultation two years ago.


North Lanarkshire Council aims to make £73m of savings and has outlined potential cuts of £105 million from budgets between 2013 and 2016 through 280 different savings options. If all the savings options are implemented, 1387 posts could go in the area.


As part of the consultation, which began on October 1st , 'targeted' 20-page booklets were sent to every house in North Lanarkshire region.


Councillor McCabe said: “In addition to the doorstep deliveries, booklets were available at council office and libraries, our website site carried the full range of options as well as an electronic survey, we had street teams in all of our town centres and our customer contact centre took calls from residents.


“It is only right we asked the people who will be most affected for their views.


“Knowing what our residents value is only half the battle. The hard decisions rest with me and my fellow councillors.


“When we meet to consider the savings, the vital services we deliver in social work, education, regeneration and employment will be at the forefront of our thoughts.


“The response shows getting the message out to our residents was a real success for local democracy.


“It is vital we know what services are valued most by the people of North Lanarkshire and this gave them the chance to tell us.


“This is the second time we have run a public consultation on such a wide scale and it is already clear the response has been higher than 2010 when the council was seeking to make around £55m in savings.”


Councillor McCabe blamed cuts by the coalition government in Westminster to Scotland, then a “real terms” cut imposed on them by the Scottish Government through the council tax freeze, for the reasons behind the savings plan.


He added: “No-one in North Lanarkshire wants to see cuts being made in services or jobs. But the reality is we have no choice.


“We are in the throes still of a major global financial crisis with no end in sight.


“We are being squeezed from both sides and the losers are the residents we serve.


“But until the freeze on council tax ends our hands are tied.”


The findings of the public consultation will be presented to councillors at the earliest opportunity, the local authority said, with a report into savings expected to be finalised and published later this month, and a special meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee followed by a full council meeting, expected to take place in mid-December, where councillors will determine which cuts are made.

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