TORBAY residents are being urged to have their say on their council.
The council has a 1,000 strong residents' research panel which is statistically representative of the population of Torbay. It considers it one of the most valuable ways of finding out what matters to local people.
Residents are selected at random from the electoral register.
Viewpoint panellists have taken part in wide ranging consultations ranging from fear of crime, to highways issues, shopping in the Bay and trading standards to waste and recycling.
Panellists are asked to complete two to three postal questionnaires per year. They could also be consulted through face to face/ telephone interviews, discussion groups and ad hoc questionnaires. Panellists receive a newsletter showing how their views are influencing policy. Torbay Council will be sending applications to a random selection of households in order to recruit residents, aged 18 and over, to join the community opinion panel.
Councillor Derek Mills, executive lead for business planning and governance said: "The Viewpoint Panel really is an incredibly important tool; it ensures we have the best possible awareness of the needs of our community, it enables us to challenge the way we deliver services and allows us to introduce new ways of doing things which support the aspirations of local people.
"Given the huge strain on council budgets; which is set to continue over the coming years, the council will need to deliver services in completely different ways. It is really important that local people work with us, so that we can make informed choices as a community, rather than the community feeling things are being 'done' to them. If you have a little spare time I would encourage you to please come forward and help at this really crucial time for the local area."
Any Torbay resident, 18 and over, can apply to be a member. The panel should reflect the profile of the population of Torbay, for example by age, gender and postcode, so applicants will be asked for these details. If you don't receive a letter and are interested in taking part you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01803 207227. You can also apply online at http://www.torbay.gov.uk/index/getinvolved/consultation/viewpoint.htm