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WAB Asked To Give Evidence In Council Budget Meeting

Thursday February 2 2012




WE Are Barnsley has been invited to take part in a council meeting to discuss the impact of future budget cuts - and whether our community understands the challenges ahead.

Next week, a scrutiny commission - made up of councillors and experts - will debate the challenges facing Barnsley amid the budget cuts and consider whether communities fully understand the changes that are coming their way.

We Are Barnsley journalist Nicola Hyde will be an expert witness at the debate, presenting over 300 comments and views made by users on the WAB website and on Facebook.

She said: "It's a real honour to be asked to represent our WAB community in such a way and debate how media, like ours, can help people keep informed of what's going on in our home town.

"I'm compiling a list of evidence to take with me, so if anyone has anything they want me to include, I'd happily use it. I'm specifically going to be talking about whether people understand the impact of the budget cuts and whether they think websites like ours are valuable in informing them of what's going on."

Nicky will appear in front of councillors alongside Barnsley Chronicle editor Andrew Harrod and Bob Williams, the head of communications for Barnsley Council.

** If you'd like to comment, please do so on this piece and not on Facebook so we can find it again! **

The original report WAB did on the budget cuts can be found here.

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Reply Posted by The_grump on Thursday February 2 2012 at 15:54
Nicky could you ask for an average review of Executive pay bonuses and pensions every year for the last 11 years. You won't get it but it will be interesting to see a few people squirm in their chairs, especially mister steve houghton who appartanlty has doubled salaries and increased his pension. They aren't struggling are they.

Reply Posted by The_grump on Thursday February 2 2012 at 15:54
Nicky could you ask for an average review of Executive pay bonuses and pensions every year for the last 11 years. You won't get it but it will be interesting to see a few people squirm in their chairs, especially mister steve houghton who appartanlty has doubled salaries and increased his pension. They aren't struggling are they.

Reply Posted by J Tolson on Thursday February 2 2012 at 16:34
can you ask why it takes two men and a lorry to empty dog poo bins surely one could do this on there own

Reply Posted by J Tolson on Thursday February 2 2012 at 16:34
can you ask why it takes two men and a lorry to empty dog poo bins surely one could do this on there own

Reply Posted by J Tolson on Thursday February 2 2012 at 16:34
can you ask why it takes two men and a lorry to empty dog poo bins surely one could do this on there own

Reply Posted by Guest on Thursday February 2 2012 at 18:38
As much as I love WAB, I think asking Nicky to be an 'expert witness' is a bit ridiculous on this ocassion. A large proportion of the comments left on WAB are totally off the point, criticising the govt or benefit recipients etc rather than the reality of how best to make the cuts, which have to be made no matter how much we might not like them. The point should be whether we agree with how the council wants to spend its money or if we think it should be used differently. Everyone has had the chance to comment direct to the council. My reply took 2 hours so I hope it received due consideration.

Reply Posted by WABNicky on Friday February 3 2012 at 08:05
Just to clarify Guest - as it says in the piece, my focus will be on what media can do to keep the community informed and whether people have understood what the budget cuts mean to them through the reports made on WAB. The fact that a 'large proportion of comments are off the point' is actually interesting evidence: as the point of the meeting is have people understood it - or do the council need to do more to explain?
Granted I'm not an expert witness in budgets - but with 13 years as a journalist under my belt, I can certainly confidently give evidence (as I have been asked to) about the impact the media can have...

Reply Posted by Claire Rob on Friday February 3 2012 at 08:28
I think its an excellent idea using forms of media such as face book. It is the way forward. My mum asked me yesterday how I knew about the lady that was in the train accident. I told her if you are friends with WAB on facebook you know everything you need to know about barnsley. Go WAB :)

Reply Posted by Johnboy on Friday February 3 2012 at 08:46
If they have got to make cuts.... what about turning Street light off where there is no houses, like bye passes etc.... would save quite a lot of money

Reply Posted by Paul on Friday February 3 2012 at 09:44
WAB is part of the Chronicle. That makes you a News organisation. How can WAB do that and remain impartial? If a controversial decision is made arising from the Council Budget Meeting niether WAB  nor the Barnsley Chronicle could address that with out being tainted by the fact it took part in the meeting. Some how doesn't seem ethical.
Leveson is different because its an enquiry into the media.

Reply Posted by on Friday February 3 2012 at 10:24
Hi Paul: just to clarify a few points. WAB is not part of the Chronicle - we are owned by the Acredula Group, which also owns the Chronicle but we are run independently. Hundreds of people have had their say on our page about the budget cuts and we sent all these comments across to the council. The council will be the ones to decide the budget - the reason we are going (we won't be in the whole meeting) will be to address the role media plays in informing people and helping them to understand the impact of the cuts. We can represent our users views in that debate by illustrating the comments made on Facebook and on our website, which can only be a good thing. There's absolutely no conflict there. Hope that makes sense.

Reply Posted by on Friday February 3 2012 at 10:24
Hi Paul: just to clarify a few points. WAB is not part of the Chronicle - we are owned by the Acredula Group, which also owns the Chronicle but we are run independently. Hundreds of people have had their say on our page about the budget cuts and we sent all these comments across to the council. The council will be the ones to decide the budget - the reason we are going (we won't be in the whole meeting) will be to address the role media plays in informing people and helping them to understand the impact of the cuts. We can represent our users views in that debate by illustrating the comments made on Facebook and on our website, which can only be a good thing. There's absolutely no conflict there. Hope that makes sense.

Reply Posted by Elizabettty on Friday February 3 2012 at 12:17
What about no Christmas lights in villages, only in the town centre. As loads of people have there own lights now, then it would encourage people into the town centre to see the lights, and hopefully spend a little more money,

Reply Posted by Luthertheavenger on Friday February 3 2012 at 12:51
Personally I think that the media could do a bit of a better job on reporting cuts to local services. Although WAB do a good job on reporting what the cuts will be and a reasonable job on reporting council meetings, I feel that more emphasis could be placed on explaining where the cuts originate from. Funding cuts from central government. Many people see the cuts as being down to council mismanagement. They may well have a point in some cases and I'm sure that there is plenty to be debated on this subject but the public should be left in no doubt that these cuts are coming straight from the coalition government.

The frightening fact is that the cuts have hardly begun. Over the next few years, cut upon cuts and wave upon wave of public sector redundancies will be rolled out. It is hard to see when the recovery point will be too, with government policy stifling growth, it looks like this massive reduction in Council funding is going to be with us for a very long time. The cuts are very much focused on the poorer areas of the country, which by no coincidence tend to be Labour held councils. They are designed to put such councils under massive pressure and to hugely impact their popularity in the eyes of the electorate. Let there be no doubt that these cuts are not so much about saving money (in fact, the imposition of these cuts and reforms will actually cost more), they are ideological, designed to turn public money into private profit and to slaughter the welfare state, which the Tories have wanted to do since its inception.

Once these cuts really begin to bite and we see council services shrinking back drastically, hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions more people tumbling on to the dole and a creeping wave of poverty washing over the country, it will make the Thatcher government seem like the good old days. We need the press, both national and local to give the people a true and honest account of what is happening and not to follow the Daily Mail example of pitching people against easy targets.

Reply Posted by Tonydevoy on Friday February 3 2012 at 19:35
Ask them why the poorest and most vulnerable have to take most of the pain of cuts. And how much of our money is going to the top third of management positions at the council such as communications officer Bob Williams and 100s more non-essential and made up posts.  These parasites doubled their salaries and pensions during last decade with no inprovement at all to council services; rewards for failure!  And as for ex-chief executive Phil Coppard and his huge payoff and £100,000 plus a year pension.  Let's face it the only money these people are saving is for themselves and they have the cheek to say they work for us!!

Reply Posted by Jane ward on Sunday February 5 2012 at 17:52
We're all in it together . . . . . .NOT ! ! !