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Councillors on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have been asked to find out which local voluntary groups want to be involved in a series of ‘community conversations’ on budgets, due to start next week (Thursday November 1st).

The programme of conversations begins on Thursday in Castlebay and continues right through November, with events in Back, Lochs, Uig, Ness, Tarbert, Point and Stornoway.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar is hosting the events to look at a radical programme of service redesign. Elected members of the Comhairle have been given the brief to “identify the groups/ local community and third sector leaders in your area that should be invited to participate” in the events, to try and open the discussion to as wide a range of groups as possible.

Voluntary groups who wish to be included in an event local to them should contact one of their ward councillors.

Comhairle Leader, Roddie Mackay, said: “Given the very clear challenges which we face with the current financial climate, it is more important than ever before for us to ensure the best use of resources when delivering services.

“We have committed to making savings of nearly £10m through service redesign but the fact is that even more may be required. I and other Members do not believe that we can just cut services. We believe we have to take a more imaginative approach.

“Officers and members have discussed a process of community engagement and empowerment aimed at identifying those issues that are important to local communities, in addition to investigating ways that could reduce the demand for some services, identify other services that could be more efficiently provided by communities, and agree which services could be changed.

“While this is a time of austerity and a threat to public services, this is also a time of opportunity if we work together to engage communities as partners in change.”