South Yorkshire Fire Authority will be the first in the country to pilot a new online social media service.
The authority's crucial budget meeting on February 21, will trial the use of Citizenscape, which brings together key areas of social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
Citizenscape, developed by Public-i, will offer new opportunities for the public to engage with the Fire Authority, as well as providing a website to host discussions on Fire Service related issues for the region.
A central part of the discussions will be around the regular Authority meetings, where councillors from Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield discuss the performance of the Fire Service.
Every Fire Authority meeting is webcast live online and on February 21 members will gather to agree the local Council Tax precept for the 2011/12 budget - one of the major decisions of the year.
Cllr Jim Andrews, chair of South Yorkshire Authority, said: "This is a real first, not just for South Yorkshire, but for the whole country. The trial will look at how as a Fire Authority we can use social media as a way of making the decision making process more transparent.
"Social media is now an important way to interact with people and through this trial we will be able to bring together key websites such as Twitter and Facebook to inform people of our decisions, promote projects and open up discussions about what the public require from their Fire Service.
"The trial will not interfere with the meeting, but it will open up the process to more people.
"We have also found that staff within the Fire Service have been getting involved with the webcasts and social media platforms, which is terrific and we hope this pilot will increase this participation between employees, the Authority and Fire Service."
South Yorkshire Fire Authority is set to see a 9.5 per cent reduction in grant receipts from the government in 2011/12, followed by a further 3.4 per cent cut in 2012/13. The pressures will increase even more after that, as the Government has planned the bigger proportion of the overall reduction from 2013/14 onwards.
Members of the public can tweet South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue via @SYFR. To watch the Fire Authority meeting through a live webcast and access the Citizenscape website please visit www.southyorks.gov.uk.
Anyone wanting to put forward their suggestions on how the Fire Authority can manage a reduction in its budget should visit www.southyorks.gov.uk where they will be able to leave a comment. Alternatively, they can write to South Yorkshire Joint Secretariat, FREEPOST, RLZL-KJUE-HRCB.
Date posted: 16.02.11