Community participation and public services
Public involvement in democracy is one of the most talked about issues in the discussion. There are a large number of comments that advocate further opportunities for local people be involved and play a part in decisions that affect them and their community.
There is a focus on more decisions being taken locally and at a community level. One suggestion is to make better use of community councils, while others suggest reforming community councils to make them more representative of local communities and give them more authority.
There is acknowledgement that people should get involved themselves to improve things through, for example, local politics or volunteering. This issue is made with particular reference to children and young people, with a suggestion that they should be encouraged and engaged to play an active role in shaping their lives more generally.
Support for community groups and organisations to allow participation at a grass roots level is a key issue. This links to an earlier point raised on access to community space but is also about providing further funding support for community groups. One suggestion made is to simplify the community funding landscape to make it easier for community groups to apply for and access funds.
Access to information is considered critical to community engagement, as is the provision of feedback to generate trust and maintain community involvement.
The role of National Government and the way in which it works is also raised. The importance of partnership working across political parties and between sectors, with a focus on working towards the common good, are the main points raised.
The role of public services is another standout issue to emerge from the discussion. The key point raised is that services should 'fit' the needs of people. One idea suggested is that service users should be listened to and involved at the service design stage.
This comes through in views given on integrated health services and education. It also comes across in issues raised on transport where suggestions on how transport services could be improved include: improved routes and greater reliability of services; and greater integration of transport services for rural communities, such as bus and ferry services.
Being able to access public services is another key issue. On one hand, there are many comments that suggest quality public services should be available to everyone regardless of where they live. On the other is the view that the availability of services should be based on where they are needed most and that access to them should reflect this.
Access to services is a particular issue raised in relation to rural communities, with several comments suggesting that more resources are needed to improve access. Improving broadband to provide more access to online services is one example given. Faster broadband speeds and better mobile coverage in general is the key issue around digital services.
More local services, such as local clubs and activities, and greater ease of access to key services such as health and education are key issues raised. Having translation services available for non-English speakers in health centres and schools is one example offered.
The costs of public services are also raised in the discussion. A number of comments suggest keeping free services currently in place such as free prescriptions; TV licence for over 75s; free bus travel for over 60s; and a free higher education system.
However, many comments suggest that public transport costs are too high and that costs to travel the same distance vary depending where in the country the journey takes place. An additional point raised in relation to bus services is that the same service can vary in cost depending on the service provider. Therefore, one idea offered is to make transport costs for the same service or for level of service the same across public transport providers regardless of where in the country the journey takes place.
In the same way, there are calls for the cost of energy supply to be the same regardless of where you are located or the means by which you pay for it. This is a particular issue for those who use pre-paid meters and those in remote locations.
Email: Paul Sloan
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback