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An innovative conference has allowed audience members to have their say on local services by using innovative game ...
An innovative conference has allowed audience members to have their say on local services by using innovative game show-style electronic voting. South Lanarkshire Council will use the results to shape services.

The conference was hailed as an excellent example of community planning in action by Andy Kerr.

Community planning aims to ensure public services are built around the needs of the people who use them.

The minister for finance and public services was speaking at the fifth Community Planning Conference in Hamilton. He highlighted examples of best practice in Lanarkshire. Mr Kerr said: 'Improving the delivery of public services is a priority for the Executive and its partners. That means delivering the excellent public services people deserve and expect while ensuring those services match the needs of individuals and communities.

'Community planning has a key role to play in making that happen. This is not new, agencies have been working together for some time but we have set out some key requirements in legislation and given it a far higher priority.

'This conference is a great example of community planning in action. It uses innovative and user-friendly technology to give local communities a say in shaping their communities South Lanarkshire Council should be applauded for this initiative.'

The minister added: 'There are many other examples of community planning best practice in Lanarkshire and I would be delighted to see other local authorities follow their lead.

'For example, 1800 people recently got involved in a citizens' panel across south Lanarkshire, with mini-panels in Hamilton, East Kilbride, Clydesdale and Rutherglen. This was a chance for the council to get feedback about what people feel about living in South Lanarkshire.

'Computer-based keyboards were installed in locations like pubs, clubs and sports centres, taking views on issues like the refurbishment of Rutherglen Town Hall.

'And Citizens' Juries looking in detail at local issues have been held, giving communities a chance to question officials and experts about issues of concern. They have tackled issues like graffiti, services for older people in rural areas and youth issues before the jury makes recommendations on how to address them.

'Community planning has influenced many local projects, including:

The new and improved community facilities in Hillhouse. The community identified priorities for this project, which was jointly funded by the council, the Social Inclusion Partnership and the Health Board.

A one-stop shop in Hillhouse with a range of services including library, internet access, IT Training, projects providing guidance on jobs and training opportunities, advice on healthy lifestyles;

The street improvements underway in Burnbank where the council and the enterprise company are funding road and pavement improvements, new benches and lighting and the children at St Cuthbert's have redesigned their school entrance gate.'

The conference which tookplace Council Offices, Almada Street, Hamilton aimed to encourage deeper community engagement and to seek views from the community on some of the outcomes of the recent Audit of Community Participation. The conference was used to input community views on the future priorities which need to be addressed by partner agencies and by the partnership.

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