Local people are to get the chance to have a greater say in how funding is spent in their community following the creation of a Localities Bid Fund.
Details of how the £500,000 fund will be split across the five localities (Berwickshire, Cheviot, Eildon, Teviot and Liddesdale, and Tweeddale), the process by which people and organisations can apply and how final decisions will be taken were discussed by Councillors on Tuesday (27 June).
Community votes to decide successful projects
It was agreed that the new five Locality Committees (formerly Area Forums) will accept bids for funding which will be assessed by the Locality Committees and Council officers before going to a community vote.
Councillor Sandy Aitchison, Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and Locality Services
“This new fund will provide local people with a real say on how money is spent in their area and what the priorities in the community should be.
“The Locality Committees will be pivotal to this process and will be engaging with local people, community groups and organisations later this year to promote the fund and encourage people to apply.
“This type of participatory budgeting empowers communities and enables local people to get involved in improving their local area, develop community projects and ideas, and has been proven to have a very positive effect elsewhere.”
Funding split by population of localities
The £500,000 fund total was approved as part of the 2017/18 budget setting process in February, with the split between localities agreed on the basis of the population in each area.
Further details of the fund and how it will operate will be brought back to the Council before the end of September, following discussions with the chairs of the Locality Committees.
How participatory budgeting works
A successful local example of participatory budgeting in the Scottish Borders was the Burnfoot Community Futures project in Hawick, which has since been recognised as best practice by the Scottish Government, and on which the SBC model has been based.
This saw £39,000 allocated to Burnfoot Community Futures from the Community Choices Fund and a steering group engage with the community. This resulted in 26 projects being submitted for funding and a community event taking place. Each project had the opportunity to present their proposal and members of the community then voted.
Over 300 votes were received and 13 projects awarded funding.