Residents Decide How To Spend £100,000

by Alastair Hamilton -

Shetland Islands Council has been asking residents to decide how they’d like to see £100,000 spent on local services.

The Council was successful in applying to the Scottish Government’s Community Choices Fund for money to build on existing Participatory Budgeting (PB) work, in order to move towards more community involvement in decisions about Council spending. PB lets communities choose how resources should be allocated by voting on how they think a budget should be spent.

The Scottish Government has provided £50,000 and Shetland Islands Council will also provide another £50,000, to make £100,000 available for Shetland’s own Community Choices project. In this form of PB, an online voting system allows voters to look at the different projects on offer, so that they can decide which projects should receive funding. Residents can also vote by post or in person at a ‘market stall’ event, when residents can drop in to speak directly with project leaders before casting their vote. The Council has also provided £9,000 that has been match funded by the Scottish Government, to support three small grant projects in Skerries, Fetlar and Bressay.

an online voting system allows voters to look at the different projects on offer

Other PB events have taken place in Shetland since 2010, with seven small grants projects being completed by local communities and community councils, and more than 700 people and 52 voluntary groups taking part in 2016. It is hoped that in time, this approach will allow communities to decide budget priorities, to make decisions about how one-off or external funding is spent, or be involved in commissioning a council-provided service.

Council Leader, Gary Robinson, said: “The aim in the long term is to have at least 1% of the Council’s budget decided by a PB method and for increased community involvement to be a more routine way of working. This approach can really engage and empower the community in discussions on public budgets. The challenge remains for us to scale up the influence of the community over the mainstream money spent by the Council.”

This approach can really engage and empower the community

The photographs illustrate some of the projects seeking funding. Full details of all of them can be found on the Shetland Community Choices website.

Posted in: Community