From South America to South Coast - Participatory Budgeting arrives in Gosport!
Participatory Budgeting (PB) was developed in Brazil in the 1980’s following decades of corruption and dictatorship to encourage citizen participation and democracy. There are now a number of other countries who have adopted different models of PB and since 2006, over 150 communities in the UK have used a number of these models.
Gosport Community Safety Partnership was selected by the Home Office to take part in the Engaged Communities pilot in May 2009 and distributing £20,000 of Home Office funds to the community through a PB process was a compulsory part of the project. Following research and guidance from local PB projects in Southampton and Isle of Wight, the Community Grants model was selected to use in Gosport. An area based approach was also chosen to test out the model, with £10,000 being available for each area. These were based on Police Safer Neighbourhood areas and comprised of approximately 5,000 households.
An essential part of the PB process is involving the community at all stages. In November 2009, the concept of PB was presented at Neighbourhood Action Groups, along with survey data and crime statistics, and the groups made key decisions including:
The name and brand of the scheme
How it should be promoted – which included personally addressed letters
The criteria ? this was kept as broad as possible with no limits on size of the bids
Scoring system for the Decision Day events
All households in the areas received a letter telling them about YOUdecide fund and the application process took place in January & February 2010. Applications from both groups and individuals were received and summaries of the projects are below:
These were checked by a working group made up of key community members to make sure the projects were feasible and did not form a pre-selection process in any way. The project representatives were invited to make a 3 minute, ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch at the Decision Day events held in March 2010 and all households received a letter inviting them to come along and vote. Both events were full of emotion and drama – tears, voting system failures and surprise results all featured! It was an incredibly empowering experience; for the community who voted on which ideas deserved the money; the bidders who felt validated and supported by their community; and elected members and council representatives who relinquished control and placed the decision making directly into the hands of the community. Evaluations from these are in the attached document.
Due to the success and popularity of YOUdecide, Gosport Community Safety Partnership continued to use PB beyond the Home Office pilot and the scheme has gone from strength to strength. Subsequent rounds of YOUdecide were run in October & November 2010, June 2011, May and November 2012, October 2013 and most recently October 2014. These have been jointly funded by the Community Safety Partnership and Hampshire County Council through their Have Your Say grant. Following each of the Decision Days, feedback and evaluations have helped to improve the YOUdecide process for both bidders and voters.
Also an article about the October 2013 event featured in Portsmouth News and you can read the ecstatic feedback from two of the winners here.
YOUdecide is still continuing through funding bids to the OPCC and it is hoped one can be delivered late in 2018 or 2019.