Each year, Aberdeenshire Council carries out a consultation on budget plans.
It is an essential part of local democracy, ensuring that the voice of communities comes through in any and all budget setting decisions.
This year, we have launched a brand new approach, in order to try to simplify and illustrate the challenges faced.
In place of traditional surveys and written text, the team have developed a suite of infographics, each of which paints a different picture of a different part of council budget setting. For example, there is a section on the pressures that councils are under, one which focuses on council tax, and one which lays out some of the future opportunities.
Attached to each infographic is a short set of questions, in some cases just two questions, to give people the opportunity to make their voices heard.
The engagement process is open now and will close at the start of January, giving enough time for the results to be passed to councillors who, in turn, will use them to inform their decision making for the coming financial year.
- All the infographics and associated questions can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/budgetengagement
- Surveys are all open now and will close on 3rd January.
- Reports will be submitted to elected members in January to give them time to consider all views in time for the budget setting in February.
- The 7 topics are as follows: Pressures on our services; Investing in our communities; Increasing efficiency; Identifying savings; Council Tax; Income generation; The future of sports and cultural services in Aberdeenshire
The new approach has been taken to allow people have their views on as many topics as they feel passionate about. So views on all seven areas are being sought, however those with a particularly strong opinion on a particular subject can ensure that they get that message across loud and clear.
The infographics themselves are also being issued for use in community forums and discussions right across Aberdeenshire, to make sure everyone gets the chance to participate.
Council Co-leader Cllr Richard Thomson said: “It is important for us to embark upon our budget setting discussions with our eyes open. To get a feel for what people in our communities want and need from us, and to make sure they feel empowered to know what they can do for themselves. We want to maintain high quality public services while at the same time making sure we are as efficient as possible. We also want to minimise the impact any reductions have on residents and service-users.
“The views you share will help us as we come together as a council to debate how to make the best use of the funding available to us, and we value the feedback.”
Co-leader Cllr Alison Evison said: “Aberdeenshire Council is embarking upon a year of change and challenge. Local elections coming up will change not only priorities but faces around the chamber. Some significant projects will be delivered this year and others will be progressed. Ensuring we have had robust and extensive consultation will play a part in everything that we do.
“I encourage people across Aberdeenshire to let us know what their views are and look forward to getting the results.”
All the infographics and attached questions can be found at www.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/budgetengagement