Monthly Archives: December 2009

Liveblog failure: an update

Oh the irony.

My  post asking why our live blogs weren’t working got more comments than all the liveblogs put together.

And the responses have been a bit of an eye opener:

I would suggest that people would like to discuss the major issues, not the periphery issues. Specifically, staffing levels, salaries and staff pensions which I assume are the biggest element of Council expenditure by a country mile.

Most people have no interest in this online blog for the simple reason the options are all about cutting services that effect us. What most people want is to see the wage bill cut from the overpacked top half of the Council. Why don’t we have the option of saying “sack half the managers?” Year in, year out these people take more of our money, and give us less and less services. Doesn’t stop them voting themselves increases in wages and expences though. Stop paying for consultants and do the job yourself, that will save money. Cut down on the amount of Councillers. It’s been shown time after time that they are of little use. They find out more about what the Council is doing by reading the Echo, then they do from attending expences paid meetings. Most of all, they had better remember it is election time next year.

Its the same old B$ response we get – nothing changes no mater how much we do or do not get involved. Why waste our time

as for the blog waste of time if it made any difference you would not have it

There is no point in commenting because most of the suggestions are not acceptable for example cutting back services to the elderly or for youth
What should be brought forward are cost saving measures that the public actually want-Cuts in number of Councillors , cuts in Special Allowances , cut expenses,get rid of agency staff, get rid of any posts that have been vacant for more than 3 months,cut out expenditure on outside Consultants, cut out expenditure on projects like “Town Centre Vision”, cut down on the number of meatings and the number of people attending them so they can do some actual work, and generally make the Council more efficient and cost effective
Why should the public have to say they would cut Youth Clubs or Concessionary Fares when these other areas are the places savings should be made

I suspect that there is no sense of an equality of sacrifice and that we are being asked to cut into too many services for vulnerable people. Cut Councillors allowances to where they were in May 2007. make a pledge to aim for a slimmed down Council. and people might begin to think their views were important.
The cost-cutting measures suggested for comment look like Civil Service impossible choices, with the implication that there is no scope for the efficiency improvements and cost of service- delivery reductions that people are entitled to expect.
If I thought that the council were really serious about cost-cutting then I might want to engage with the process, but the council suggestions so far just don’t give that impression. When I see serious proposals about reductions in the number of Councillors, removal of contract staff, cuts in allowances, reduced overheads, etc, then I will start to believe that they mean business. And even then I will want to see the accounts!

I guess too many people realized that the select inner few in the cabinet have already decided what is to happen; after all if they have shown little interest in democratic local government in the past, so why should we expect a change now?

This was just a box ticking exercise to show that they are listening.
Recent events prove they don’t care what we think, then they wonder why we dont bother going along with there stupid pr stunts.

I’m not surprised the ‘Blog’ was of little interest to people. It appeared to me to be nothing other than a propaganda excercise, designed to show that the council was so efficient, that the only way to make ‘Savings’ was to cut services that would have a highly visable impact,(closing public toilets/being unable to close down drug dens/not repairing roads etc).

Because despite anything being said by the ‘public’, people are probably of the opinion that Bournemouth Borough Council will go ahead anyway with whatever has been decided by them already. I suggest that whatever they are going to cut (allowances are NOT to be cut) has been set in stone and the agenda’s, together with discussion papers, already prepared for the meetings.

Because the council’s mind is already made up, never mind the ‘consultations, they know what they are going to do and they will do it.

And my personal favourite….

This needs to be run and controlled by an organization that has both the skills and knowledge to do a consultation in this way. With respect to the Echo I don’t think they have such skill and knowledge.

I’m not sure what any of this means for us and future liveblogs. But the strength of feeling against the council has been quite a surprise.

You can read the rest of the comments here

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Live blogging: why such a disaster?

I’ve just written this for our Ask the Echo blog.

We tried an experiment this week. Three lunchtime live webchats focusing on Bournemouth Borough Council’s proposed budget cuts.

We spent a lot of time thinking about the best time and structure for these blogs – the council had asked us to help get people involved in the budget consultation, and we were happy to do so. It’s your money, after all, it’s only right that you have a say in how it’s spent.

So we decided on three blogs focusing on specific subject areas. A councillor and council officer would come in each day to answer questions and respond to comments.

We posted a story about each blog, with a form for submitting questions if you weren’t able to be there live. We also made sure each story had details about exactly what cuts were being considered.

And we chose lunchtime because our previous experiences with evening blogs had not been very successful.

The response, however was underwhelming. Even Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin putting in an appearance on Thursday wasn’t enough to provoke a response.

Today’s blog, about cutting funding for ASBOs, stopping closing drug dens because it costs too much and switching off the town’s CCTV cameras, was cancelled because not a single question was posted.

Reader numbers for the blogs never made it out of the “few dozen”. So we’d like to know why.

Is it the format? The time? Are you not interested in the budget options? Do you think it’s not your job to decide? Whatever the feedback, we’d like to hear it. Be constructive, please… we really want to know how we can make these discussions work for you. There’s a form <a href=http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/yoursay/ask_the_echo/> here </a>…

Essentially this week’s discussions have been a very damp squib. The most response we got came from the issue of bowling greens (it costs the taz payers £200 per year per bowler to keep the greens maintained.)

My theory that is people comment, on stories or blogs, only when they feel personally outraged by the subject in question.
Ask for their opinion before a decision is made, and they don’t have one (unless they feel something underhand is happening, of course). But tell them that decision has been made and they’ll be outraged that it wasn’t the choice they wanted.
Or maybe it’s simple apathy about politics and councils in general. Maybe people feel their opnions aren’t needed. Maybe they thought the options in question were so ridiculous they weren’t ever going to get the nod.

Hopefully we’ll have more respsonse to the why than we did to the original blogs… will let you know!


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