Aberdeenshire residents are being asked to give their views on the future of local services provided by Aberdeenshire Council.
Aberdeenshire Council has just launched an engagement exercise which asks for people’s views on how best to address future funding gaps. The council provides a range of services for local people from schools, roads and street lighting, to waste, parks, social care and housing, costing around £530million annually.
Around 260,000 people live in an area which is geographically and economically diverse and demands on services can vary greatly from location to location.
Councillors will meet in February to formally set the budget for 2016/17 but want the views of local people to inform the process.
Co-leader of Aberdeenshire Council, Richard Thomson, said
The council’s funding is reducing at the same time as demand for services increases, meaning we have to consider delivering services differently and more efficiently.
We are asking local people, whatever their interest, to have their say on how our funding should be spent for the coming year and assist us in making decisions about the future of services.
Co-leader, Martin Kitts-Hayes, said
We need to find £18million in order to maintain services at the current level and will be identifying ways to make savings across all services.
Whilst suggestions have been made by council officers to cover a range of efficiency measures, councillors are keen to hear from residents who may also have ideas about how to save money.
We know many people have ideas about how councils could or should do things differently – this is their chance to have a direct impact on our work.
Co-leader of the Democratic Independent and Green Group, Paul Johnston, said
Engaging with communities on major issues such as this, which can affect all parts of our communities, is incredibly important.
The work of a local authority touches on the lives of almost everyone, whether that be bin collection, care of the elderly, education, roads or planning and it’s only right that we ask those people how they would like to see those services provided in future, against the background of ever-reducing funding.
Leader of the opposition Aberdeenshire Alliance, Jim Gifford, said
We need the views of local people so we can be sure the decisions we are taking reflect their opinions and what’s important to them and their communities.
As funding reduces, there will be difficult decisions to take – some services may reduce, whilst others may become a higher priority.
The engagement process is designed to help inform the decisions made by Aberdeenshire councillors in setting a balanced budget. This is intended to ensure that the council continues to deliver a range of valued local services to communities, highlight the Administration’s emerging priorities and identify savings in 2016/17 of £18million.
The online survey can be completed by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Shirebudget
If you are unable to access the online survey hard copies are also being made available in local libraries, which also offer internet access to members of the public.