Budget Views 2012 Blog 2

By on 31/10/2011 in Blog, Budget Views

Welcome back to my blog about the Birmingham Budget 2012/13 consultation. Since I wrote my last post, we have held the first two in a series of public meetings that are going on around the city, and I have also taken part in my first ever live web chat.

On October 22, we held the first public meeting in the Council House, whilst both a demonstration against government cuts to disability benefits and services, and the 'Occupy Birmingham' camp, were outside in Victoria Square. It was a day for people to make their views known in all sorts of ways, and I'm glad that so many came to our meeting to do so.

The consultation exercise that we're running at the moment is the largest we've ever done. We're taking on board lots of feedback from the session about how to improve the meetings, and I thank you for your comments and advice – we'll be putting this into practice for the rest of the meetings over the next few weeks.

On Thursday (October 27) we held a second meeting, at the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr. There were fewer people there than on Saturday – perhaps due in part to the decidedly autumnal weather – but we nevertheless had just as lively and interesting a discussion.

I also took part in a live web chat on Thursday. It was the first time I've ever done this and I found it a really interesting and worthwhile experience, and one that I'm keen to repeat. You can see the full chat here: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/2011/10/budget-views-live-webchat.

Everything that was said at the meetings and in the web chat has been recorded – it's all really important to us, and we will pass every comment on to the councillors to help them make their decisions. All of the comments received so far will be available to see on the city council website shortly.

So far, there have been a few hot topics that have generated the most comments. These are: the Supporting People programme (which supports vulnerable people to live independently); services such as respite care, for children with disabilities; and also the Connexions service. There have also been several questions about the extent to which we've made savings through redundancies at senior management level, and how much we spend on external consultants.

At both meetings, people have also expressed strong feelings about the broader economy, suggesting that we should not have to make any savings, or that we could default on repayment of our loans. I argued that the latter is not feasible because, as a statutory body, the council is obliged to obey the law, and this means re-paying money that we borrow, as well as ensuring that our expenditure doesn't exceed our income.

Comments about the scale of the savings programme that councils have been asked to work to are something that should be addressed to central government.

A few people asked me during the web chat whether this is a true consultation that we're carrying out, or whether decisions have in fact already been made. I just want to say again that we really are open to hearing any of your views about our proposals, and whether you have any other ideas at all about what the council should be doing in relation to its budget – whether they are about saving money or raising it in innovative ways.

The next public meeting is on Wednesday (November 2) in Sutton Coldfield. The full list of others can be found here: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/2011/10/timetable-for-community-forum-meetings

Don't forget you can also have your say by:

Filling in an online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/budget2012 or in any of these other ways:

Email to budget_views@birmingham.gov.uk

Text us by starting a new message with the word 'Budget' followed by a space (if you miss this word your message will be lost)
Add your comment
Send to: 07786 200 403
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Write to Budget Views, Room B119, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB

Tweet us using the hashtag #Brumbudget12

I look forward to hearing and reading your views,

Stephen Hughes,

Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council

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