Thursday, 23 September 2010

Budget summit report

Tonight a public meeting for the Southside of the City took place.  It was held to discuss the implications of the financial constraints of Council activity for the decisions to be taken in the coming months.  It was for residents from the Meadows/ Morningside, Southside/ Newington and Liberton/Gilmerton wards. (population approx 95,000).

I counted 77 people in the room at Southside Community Centre, of whom 15 were council officials and a further 11 were councillors.  So there were just over 50 members of the public.   The majority of them I knew or recognised which indicated that very few attended from the Liberton/Gilmerton ward.  The majority were people who have contact with the council through Community Councils, Neighbourhood Partnerships or other formal relationship.

The questions and comments were measured and articulate and comments from the Council officials were usually very informative and responses to the point and at times forceful. Dave Anderson, Director of City Development, for example, responded to the strong anti-tram sentiments robustly.  Andrew Unsworth was immediate in answering the question on how much the new (but stuttering) Council website cost. (£300k).

There was the now customary (this was the third of these meetings) criticism of the framing of the questions (too simplistic and imprecise to be answered with a 'Yes' or 'No').    One of the eight questions attracted 45 votes but most were answered by only 28 to 35 of those members of the public present.  (A few left before the end.)

But doubts about the interpretation of the answers and the trams issue did not stop the meeting from going on to cover the issues posed in a broad and lively exchange of information, questions and answers.

And it was well moderated by Kenny Kemp.  All was recorded and at some stage there will be a summary made available.  The background information can be accessed from here - and the questions posed can be found at the end of this booklet.

NB Numbers given for people present may not be exact. I was seated near the front and did not the best of  views.

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