Budget Views 2012 Blog 4

By on 22/12/2011 in Blog, Budget Views

Welcome to the latest instalment of my blog on the Birmingham Budget 2012/13 consultation.

Since my previous post, we have held three further public meetings (November 9, 10 and 12 at Kings Heath Community Centre, The Council House, and Shard End Community Centre). I have hosted my second live web chat and we have also held focus group meetings with several schools and young people's groups across the city.

Parents have talked to us about the importance of both Children's Centres and respite care homes and expressed concern about changes to these vital services. They also reminded us of the need to fully understand the changes being made in areas not under our control (such as the NHS) and the extent to which this increases the need for our services. The fostering and adoption service was also discussed, with concerns being raised about the number and capacity of foster parents in the city.

A range of alternative suggestions was put forward at the public meetings to be considered by councillors, including: seeking further commercial sponsorship of events and shows; making it easier and more affordable for empty shops and houses to be re-occupied; and giving fines for parking on grass verges. There was also some opposition to the proposed increase in the Community Chest fund, which is available for local groups to bid for funds in each ward of the city.

At the meeting in Kings Heath a participant, who was under 18, told us that whilst young people will be affected by the decisions that are made, he felt that young people are often unable to have their say because they cannot vote. I think this is a very important point and that we have to make sure we hear from young people.

This is why we have held focus groups at schools and with young people's groups over the past month. The key message coming from these meetings has been one of strong support for services that protect vulnerable people, in particular children's homes. Through these meetings, each participant has submitted a letter which will be passed on to councillors along with all of the other comments that we have received.

In my web chat, I answered questions about subjects ranging from libraries and the arts, through community budgeting, to Service Birmingham, and even what might happen if Birmingham has an elected mayor. All of this and more can be seen by clicking here .

The consultation closes on January 8, so you still have time to have your say in any of these ways:

1. By email:
Simply email to: budget_views@birmingham.gov.uk

2. By text message:
Start a new message with the word 'Budget' followed by a space (if you miss this word your message will be lost), add your comment and then send to: 07786 200 403. Please note you will not get a receipt for this message. Messages sent via this service will cost your usual network rate per message and are anonymous unless you put your name in the message.

3. By post:
Budget Views, Room B119, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B1 1BB

Click here to take part in the online survey.

The consultation paper is available to download here.

You can also tweet us, using the hashtag #brumbudget12

Stephen Hughes

Chief Executive, Birmingham City Council

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