THE results of the first-ever public budget consultation have been described as “an encouraging first step.”
Linda Erskine, Fife Council finance boss, was speaking after councillors discussed the response to the consultation, ahead of the meeting which will set the budget next month.
One hundred people attended public meetings, five times that number registered online and 300 paper questionnaires were also returned by those who participated in the consultation.
Councillor Erskine, executive member for finance and corporate services, commented: “It’s very heartening to see that people did take the time to get involved and I hope we can build on this first step and learn from the experience.”
“While the number of people taking an active part in the consultation hasn’t been huge, we’ve received some high quality feedback and generated real public awareness of our budget proposals through the local media, Twitter and Facebook, which sparked other online discussions and comments.
“I hope we’ve managed to make people more informed about the issues that affect them and give people clear information on the choices we will be facing, not just this year but in the future.”
The local authority’s proposal to invest in apprenticeships received the most support, while a plan to invest £1 million in Dunfermline town centre was least popular among those who responded.
Cllr Erskine added: “I’m very encouraged by the fact that most people broadly agree that we should be putting more money into our priorities – early years, youth employment and better support for our elderly people.
“We’re now in the process of looking closely at all the feedback we’ve received, and how it will be reflected in the final budget decisions we take on February 14.”
Opposition parties had earlier expressed reservations about the consultation process.
Read the full report on the results of the council’s budget consultation at the website: www.fifedirect.org.uk/budget