Council to bring the conversation to communities
Five community engagement events are to be held across the Orkney mainland and linked South Isles next month as Orkney Islands Council continues to tackle its ongoing budget challenge.
'Community Conversations' - coming to Tankerness, St Margaret's Hope, Dounby, Kirkwall and Stromness - will pose a series of questions to local residents, with the aim of generating ideas for how the Council might save money or generate income.
Isles views will be gathered through existing mechanisms like the Development and Infrastructure Committee meetings on tour and this summer’s Community Council conference.
Political Leader of the Council, James Stockan, said: “The publication of details of cuts to services for this financial year triggered significant public debate, so we know that people are passionate about the services that we provide and have a genuine desire to see these services continue where possible.
“It is never easy to make cuts to services that are valued by people. But we have to live within our means and, with our own funding from Government reducing year on year, savings needed to be found.
“I would stress that this is about seeking alternatives to cuts. We are actively considering new sources of income for the Council by, for instance, investing in renewables.
"The stark reality is that continuing to fund services under our current model is becoming more and more challenging for us as the years go by. I firmly believe that communities across Orkney have their own role to play and must step forward to engage with us on how we develop our service provision for the future.”
The questions to be posed at the events are:
- Is there anything the Council is doing now that you think we don’t need to do or are providing in an ‘over and above’ fashion and could reduce?
- Are there any services which you think could be provided by your community for less cost?
- If you were to provide some local services, how would this be organised i.e. where from and who by. i.e. by parish, from a community hall or through a community hub - for example Dounby providing a centre for the West Mainland?
- Do you think there is a greater need for Community Councils or Development Trusts to be allocated funding from the Council to provide services?
- Should the Council use more of its reserve funds and what for? Is it providing every day services, providing more of the services that make Orkney what it is, helping our economy grow and creating jobs or investing in projects that will make money for us?
- Do you have any other ideas for us to make money, to charge for things or to save money?
The information gathered at the events will feed into the budget-setting process when it begins in the Autumn.
The diary of meetings is as follows:
- West Mainland - Monday 4 June - 19.00 to 21.00 - Milestone Church, Dounby
- Linked South Isles - Tuesday 5 June - 19.00 to 21.00 - Hope Community School, St Margaret's Hope
- Kirkwall - Monday 11 June - 19.00 to 21.00 - King Street Halls, Kirkwall
- East Mainland - Tuesday 12 June - 19.00 to 21.00 - Tankerness Hall
- Stromness - Monday 18 June - 19.00 to 21.00 - Stromness Town Hall
Huge budget savings have had to be found over the last six years. These were cuts whose impact were assessed as ‘low’ or ‘medium’ risk. Further savings were needed for the year ahead and, for the first time, Councillors had to agree cuts assessed as ‘high risk’ as well.