Edinburgh council are looking for feedback on their plans for the budget and service provision over the next few years. There’s an online survey, with highly leading questions and no space to offer comments, and over the next few weeks they’re organising a series of meetings to gauge opinions.

You’ll have the chance to find out more about the budget pressures facing the Council and join in a discussion on some key budget issues. At all the meetings, senior councillors will be attending, alongside senior Council officers. It’s your chance to find out more and have your say. The dates of the meetings are:

South West – 15 September, St Bride’s Community Centre, 10 Orwell Terrace
West – 22 September Davidson’s Mains Parish Church, 1 Quality Street
South – 23 September, Southside Community Centre, 117 Nicolson Street
East – 29 September, Royal High Primary School, 61 Northfield Broadway
North – 5 October, Drylaw Church, Groathill Road North
City Centre and Leith – 6 October, Drummond Community High School, 41 Bellevue Place

If you’d like to attend your local meeting, please get in touch to reserve your place. Please note that space is limited and if you’ve not reserved a place in advance, we cannot guarantee that you’ll be able to join in the meeting. To reserve your place please e-mail councilbudget@edinburgh.gov.uk or telephone 0131 529 4425.All the local meetings begin at 6.30pm and will finish no later than 9pm.

There is likely to be pressure on the council to reduce services, to end universal provision of some services and to reduce hours on others and to introduce more user charging. It’s imperative that there are people at these meetings, speaking to their councillors to make clear that we don’t want services cut, opposing any attempts at privatisation and forcing the council to look at where they can genuinely improve provision without draconian cuts.

Peter’s already pointed out this week how tendering wastes hundreds of thousands of pounds that could be going into community projects and saving the council money. Perhaps we should also look to the example of the Norwich Greens, whose plans, unfortunately, won’t be put into action, and examine the possibilities for the council to run more services in house, to start their own energy services company and to decentralise more power to communities.

Whatever your views on how best the council can cope, though, I hope many of you will be able to take the time to attend one of these meetings and make your voices heard.