DORSET County Council is vowing to listen to local residents as it embarks on a major public engagement exercise over the summer.

The authority will be holding a series of roadshows across the county and embarking on a social media campaign as it seeks to canvas public opinion as part of its Forward Together savings programme.

The council is hoping to trim £48million from its budget over the next three years and wants to look at different ways of delivering its services.

As part of that it wants to engage with the public to see what services are important to them and understand the needs of local communities.

The council’s group manager for consultation and research Helen Owens outlined the plans to a meeting of the authority’s audit and scrutiny committee.

She said: “This is about us as an organisation showing we are doing things really differently.

“We are going out there and we want to listen to people and we want to hear what they have to say.”

The council will use various forms of engagement to capture the views of as wide a section of the community as possible.

As well as roadshows in high streets and shopping streets where people can come and talk to councillors and officers, the authority will be speaking with stakeholder groups such as businesses and other authorities as well as utilising digital and social media to engage with a younger audience.

Members of the public will be able to give their views on issues such as which services they most value and whether they would be prepared to accept a rise in council tax to protect certain services.

Senior policy and performance manager Sam Fox-Adams told councillors that the roadshows would involved around 40 sessions at about 20 different locations over the summer.

Once the feedback is collated the council will use the information to shape future priorities.

Mr Fox-Adams added that he hoped it was just the start of a continuous process.

The plans for the public engagement exercise were welcomed by councillors.

Cllr Mike Byatt said: “I think as a way forward it’s a really good idea.”

Committee chairman Trevor Jones added: “This is about a local authority doing its best to engage with people.”

He added: “It’s a well meant exercise.

“I commend the team that is trying to put it together.”