Make your opinion known

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EVERY household in North Lanarkshire will receive a booklet over the next fortnight detailing how the council plans to save £73.3 million between April 2013 and March 2016.

At least week’s meeting of the policy and resources committee councillors agreed to ask the public their opinion on the potential savings options worth £105.7 million in a month-long consultation exercise.

In addition to the booklet, a special section has been set up within the council web site at detailing the 281 savings options.

Residents will also be able to make their views known in a series of special face-to-face sessions in all of the main town centres, beginning in mid-October.

Once residents have read the information in the booklet or on the website, they will be able to respond to an electronic questionnaire, call a dedicated phone line on 01698 403150 or return a hard copy of the survey.

The council’s management team will also deliver a presentation to local area partnership and community forum meetings throughout the month.

Head of corporate communications Stephen Penman said: “The scale of savings we are facing makes it absolutely vital we consult with our residents. We are working reach as many people as possible within a very short timescale.

“The consultation will run through the whole of October with the results, comments and suggestions being collated during November. These will then form part of a report to Council in December, when the options will be considered by councillors.

“I cannot stress enough how important this is in helping form decisions about how we will deliver services throughout North Lanarkshire in years to come. I would urge everyone to visit the website or read the information in the booklet.”

Meanwhile Times & Speaker reader John Ross has criticised the council for spending over £1,200 to send four members of North Lanarkshire Leisure (NLL) staff to a conference in Birmingham in the same week the savings options were announced.

The four travelled in one car to attend the Leisure Industry Week (LIW) Exhibition and Conference at the National Exhibition Centre for two days with the total transport, accommodation and subsistence costs amounting to £1,256.40.

Mr Ross said: “Maybe they should be spending the public money on more useful things to benefit the North Lanarkshire community rather than on an unjustifiable wee jolly in Birmingham, it’s shameful!”

NNL has attended the conference for several years and believes it needs to be present to keep up with competitors in the leisure industry.

Chief executive Blane Dodds said “LIW is the major industry event and is attended by many sport and leisure trusts, local authorities, private sector companies and suppliers from across the UK and Europe.

“This national exhibition and conference provides the opportunity for leisure industry suppliers to bring new products, services and programmes to the market with a view to meeting with major industry providers.

“It also allows sports organisations, trusts, foundations and health promotion agencies to outline and share best practice.”