NORTH Ayrshire’s new way of engaging with locals about the budget received just 207 replies - and cost more than £11,000. 

For 2018’s budget, the council produced a new website where anyone could log on and see where savings would be made and what impact this would have on services.

But the lack of responses from North Ayrshire residents has been slammed by an SNP Councillor who thinks the way in which the council went about it left those who are not IT literate out in the cold and without a voice.

Cllr Scott Davidson asked for details about the spending on the survey and whether the Council Leader thought it was worthwhile. It was revealed that it cost £11,208 to implement the website and survey.

Cllr Davidson said: “£11,000 seems quite a lot of money of money to spend on 200 responses. Whilst I absolutely agree it is of the utmost importance to engage with the residents of North Ayrshire on the budget considerations, as well as every other aspect of the council.

“I question whether this has been a successful method of engaging with our residents. On our North Ayrshire Council webpage, the third sentence of the introduction of the budget states ‘As part of preparations for the setting of the 2018 budget, the council will be holding extensive budget engagement’.

“I don’t really think it was extensive budget engagement and I want to point out that this consultation was mainly social media based through Twitter and Facebook and on the council website.”

Joe Cullinane, Leader of North Ayrshire Council, said: “We are fully committed to the principle of engaging with the community over the budget and will, over the next few months, review how best that is achieved.

“That’s why I have said on several occasions now, to all elected members, that I would welcome their feedback on this years engagement and their ideas for improving it - in particular how we maximise the number of citizens who are able to participate and express their views.”

He added that if the council used the Budget Challenge tool again for next year the total cost would be just over £2,000. This year’s cost was higher because of the design and set up costs.