6 Feb 2014

Participatory Budgeting spreads further across UK (& Ireland?)

Participatory Budgeting is going from strength to strength throughout the British Isles.

At the recent national PB Network meeting in London, there was an excellent presentation from Glasgow City Council and the City Planning Partnership on their recent PB work. This follows on from previous PB work elsewhere in Scotland in Edinburgh, Leith, Fife and at the Richmond Fellowship. There was also a representative at the PB Network event from the Scottish Government, which is looking at how PB might fit with its new statutory approach to community empowerment.

The PB Network also heard an inspiring presentation from Durham County Council. They recently held PB events in each of their 14 local Area Action Partnerships with an average attendance of around 800 people at each one! It was described as probably the most effective community engagement exercise ever in County Durham.

PB has been popular now for more than 6 years in England. A few areas, like Adur Council just down the road from where I live in Brighton, are now in their fifth consecutive year of doing PB! And in Wales, there have been a series of PB projects in recent years.


There has yet to be a PB project in Ireland but that might change soon. I spent a really interesting day in Dublin yesterday. First I went to Fingal County Council to brief them about PB.

The Irish Government published an Action Programme for Effective Local Government in October 2012 called “Putting People First”. It highlighted PB as a mechanism leading to: “a direct, stronger, participative relationship between citizens and local authorities, better public spending decisions, enhanced transparency and accountability, and a greater understanding among citizens of the financial circumstances within which local authorities must operate”.

And last night, I spoke to a small but enthusiastic audience of community activists in Skerries, who also saw the many advantages of pursuing PB as a way of motivating local people to get involved.
There is no commitment there yet, but I think it is only a matter of time before PB comes to Ireland – hopefully in Fingal County.

See the UK PB Network website here: http://www.pbnetwork.org.uk/

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