Long Hey Lane, Todmorden
In taking over the running of Calderdale Council in May we decided that we wanted to open up the work of the Council and, unlike the Conservatives, conduct real consultation about our proposals for how the Council spent local people’s money.
Our initial consultation exercise last year attracted 11,000 comments from 3,000 people and the main thrusts of those comments have acted as guiding principles in putting together budget proposals when we were later faced with the enormous and unpleasant task of finding substantial savings.
With this month’s consultation period for the Cabinet’s budget proposals we will have held three public meetings, two staff forums and met with at least five other groups (including business, the voluntary sector, Parish and Town Councils, the local partnership and the Equalities Forum). So far I have received comments from over 50 individuals.
Your report of ‘just one’ person attending a public meeting in Sowerby Bridge (Courier, 26 January) therefore needs to be taken in this wider context of substantial public involvement through other means.
The particular value of the meeting in Sowerby Bridge was that it enabled us to hear the views of several people representing ‘environmental’ interests and a knowledgeable member of the public who used to work for the Council.
There were, then, actually four people present who between them asked over 20 well-informed and challenging questions about our proposals. Having said that, four is still a small number, and I wish that more people had taken the opportunity to attend.
If this represented the total involvement of the public in our consultation exercise then it would be very disappointing but, as I have explained, it is not.
Consultation on the budget proposals still has some time to run and I would urge all of your readers to take part in this process in whichever way suits them best.
I can assure them that their involvement is very much valued by the Council.
Cllr Janet Battye
Leader of Calderdale Council