We tried an experiment this week: three lunchtime live webchats focusing on Bournemouth Borough Council’s proposed budget cuts.
We spent a lot of time thinking about the best time and structure for these blogs – the council had asked us to help get people involved in the budget consultation, and we were happy to do so. It’s your money, after all, it’s only right that you have a say in how it’s spent.
So we decided on three blogs focusing on specific subject areas. A councillor and council officer would come in each day to answer questions and respond to comments.
We posted a story about each blog, with a form for submitting questions if you weren’t able to be there live. We also made sure each story had details about exactly what cuts were being considered.
And we chose lunchtime because our previous experiences with evening blogs had not been very successful.
The response, however was underwhelming. Even Cllr Stephen MacLoughlin putting in an appearance on Thursday wasn’t enough to provoke a response.
Today’s blog, about cutting funding for ASBOs, stopping closing drug dens because it costs too much and switching off the town’s CCTV cameras, was cancelled because not a single question was posted.
Reader numbers for the blogs never made it out of the “few dozen”. So we’d like to know why.
Is it the format? The time? Are you not interested in the budget options? Do you think it’s not your job to decide? Whatever the feedback, we’d like to hear it. Be constructive, please… we really want to know how we can make these discussions work for you. There’s a form here … or you can comment below.