Embarrassment for council as ‘Way Ahead’ leaflet receives 1 per cent respondent rate, with thousands undelivered

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 22:56 GMT on Wednesday, 31st October 2012.

NORTH Lanarkshire Council have been left red faced this week for allowing local distributors to take their time distributing the ‘Way Ahead’ leaflet which outlines some of the council’s £73 million cuts.

It immerged a couple of days ago that all of the 148,000 households in North Lanarkshire would be sent one of 165,000 copies of the ‘Way Ahead’ twenty-page pocket guide to the council’s proposed cuts for the next four years.

The problem has prompted local politicians to demand a consultation date extension, with the consultation deadline of November 9th looming, after the consultation was launched on October 1st.

Producing the booklets cost North Lanarkshire Council £20,000 although some residents have spoken of their anger through social media that they were only receiving calling cards, directing them to the council’s website.

SNP Councillor for Airdrie North, Alan Beveridge has branded the council’s handling of the consultation “appalling” and added that North Lanarkshire Council was shrouded in “secrecy”, in an interview with STV Local.

He told STV Local: "There would appear to be big issues with the consultation, especially when it comes to the number of people who don't know about it.

"I'm asking for it to be extended.

"The agreement was that every household in North Lanarkshire would be briefed and that's not happened.

"North Lanarkshire Council seems to be shrouded in secrecy.

"In light of how many replies we've had, I think the whole thing needs to be re-looked at in terms of getting more feedback."

Councillor Beveridge then jumped upon figures which appeared to suggest that only 1% of people had responding, saying that it wasn’t good to direct people online.

"I've had people call up over the past week saying they've still not seen this leaflet,” the Councillor said.

“All the information is available online, but not everyone has access to the internet and it's a lot easier to read on paper than it is on a computer screen.

"They're available from libraries and council offices - but not everyone is able to leave the house.

"Maybe this is why there has only been about 2000 responses so far, because people don't know what's being proposed.

"They said that every household in North Lanarkshire would get this booklet through their door, and that's not happened.

"I think it's appalling."

North Lanarkshire Council have refused to release details of who the distributors are, however, anther SNP Councillor has learned of the promised coverage.

David Baird, SNP Councillor for Mossend and Holytown, said that assurances were given. He said: "The distributors have assured that the booklets have been given out to 91% of households, and that's what they've set for coverage.

Responding to the claims that only one per cent of households had responded to the consultation, with many households awaiting the arrival of the ‘Way Ahead’ booklet, a North Lanarkshire Council spokesman said: “Our residents have been neither slow nor shy to express their opinions of the difficult decisions the council faces.”