Your Stirling: You Decide gives the people of the area a direct say over how and where part of Stirling Council’s budget is spent, heralding a new age of community-level democracy.
It is backed by an injection of £700,000 from the local authority, with £100,000 allocated to each of the Council’s seven wards. In the first year, the focus will be on infrastructure and environmental projects.
There are simple steps to the process:
- The public generate ideas
- The proposals are developed
- People vote for their preferences and the most popular projects are funded.
At last week’s Full Stirling Council meeting, members heard an update on the initiative after the completion of the ideas stage in mid-April.
Over 770 suggestions - which can be viewed online at the Stirling Council website – were received and are now being screened against strict criteria, including cost, design, procurement and location.
This followed a six-week period of wide-ranging engagement events across all electoral wards, raising awareness and enabling the public to participate in the process, with almost 1900 residents having face to face contact with the Council’s Community Engagement Team.
Councillors heard 30 people had completed an expression of interest in becoming budget delegates, and 20 had attended the opening sessions to develop and assess which proposals are voted on.
Every ward has provided delegates, roughly split 50/50 between males and females, with the youngest aged 14 – supported by the youth team – and the rest 26 or older.
The final version of the proposals will be taken forward to a public vote which will be held over four weeks, starting on Monday, 27 May.
Excited to see what proposals are taken forward
Isabel McKnight, Chief Officer, Strategic Commissioning & Customer Development at Stirling Council, said: “This new process is an exciting change in how we conduct local democracy, encouraging citizens to play a greater role in spending decisions and giving them the opportunity to express what’s important to them for the benefit of their areas.
“We have learned from previous public engagement exercises so this time we went out to communities rather than asking them to come to us.
“The response from across Stirling has been overwhelming, and citizens are now helping assess and progress the ideas as part of the project team.
“We are excited to see what proposals are taken forward for voting, and we will shortly provide details on how this final stage will be carried out.”
A meeting of Full Stirling Council noted the progress in implementing Participatory Budgeting in 2019/20, that six-monthly updates would be provided on the initiative and a special meeting of the Finance and Economy Committee would be held to decide the voting process.
Participatory Budgeting is increasingly viewed as an important resource to build on the wider development of participatory democracy in Scotland and is seen an example of international best practice in empowering local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local needs
The Scottish Government has committed to supporting the mainstreaming of Participatory Budgeting by all 32 Local Authorities and has recommended that Local Authorities should allocate at least 1% of all budgets via Participatory Budgeting by the financial year 2020/21.