Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service's first Participatory Budgeting event is hailed as a success as the service, along with partner agencies, donated £8,000 of their funding for the community to decide on how it should be spent.

The partners donated the budget for community projects and invited local groups to bid for the money. Representatives from the public were then asked to decide which initiatives should receive the funding.

Participatory Budgeting directly involves local people and communities in making decisions on the spending and priorities for a defined public budget. The aim is to provide greater power to communities in how money is spent as well as increasing transparency, accountability, understanding and inclusion. It allows communities to have influence over projects, budgets and new services in a more democratic and transparent way.

Community Safety Officer for Plymouth, Ros Clarke has been involved with the project from the start. She told FIRE: "We held the event in Honicknowle in November last year, and made sure we advertised it as much as we could throughout the local area. It has been rewarding knowing that we were able to help people make their communities safe and empower them to make a difference."

Ros continued to say that "in practice, local people present their proposed projects and the local community vote on how the money should be divided. The event in Honicknowle focussed specifically on projects that would aim to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area."

The voting evening took place last November with eight funding bids presented to the audience.

A total of £8,000 was donated to this event; £1,000 from the Anti-Social Behaviour and Criminal Damage Group in Plymouth; £1,000 from the Anti-social Behaviour unit in Plymouth City Council; £1,000 from the Police and £5,440 from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

Breakdown of the projects and funding awarded as follows:

£2,500 - set up a youth club for under 11s (awarded full amount)
£1,500 - re-open a holiday club that had closed due to lack of funding
£1,300 - DJ booth for the local community centre
£1,300 - mobile skateboarding ramps for the local community centre
£840 - help local residents gate off a lane behind their houses where anti-social behaviour often takes place (awarded full amount)
£500 - diversionary equipment (PS3) for a youth drop-in centre
£500 - new equipment for local pre-school.

All seven of the projects were successful in receiving funding, two were awarded full funding and the other five were part funded. Ros added: "It was great that all parties went away from the evening happy and enabled to progress with their chosen projects."


Posted January 31st, 2012 at 0940 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: