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Participatory Budgeting primed for development in Northern Ireland

05 October 2017

The Trust has made a 50,000 award to a new collaborative project which will support Participatory Budgeting initiatives across Northern Ireland.

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a ‘democratic innovation’ that involves giving members of the public a direct say over how a portion of a public budget is spent.

The project was one of a number that emerged from our  recent workshop series entitled ‘Deepening Democracy: Time for Collaborative Action’.

The project will boost awareness of PB amongst councils and public agencies and provide training and support to try it out in practice.

The project will be led by Community Places and is a collaboration involving the UK Participatory Budgeting Network, the Community Development & Health NetworkTriangle Housing AssociationCorrymeelaYouthBank InternationalBuilding Communities Resource Centre, the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland, the Electoral Reform Society, the Democratic Society, the Solonian Democracy Institute and Uplift, as well as a range of individuals representing councils and other public agencies.

Community Places’ Louise O’Kane said: “the project is a real opportunity to both raise awareness of PB and put in place some of the skills and knowledge needed to develop PB initiatives across the region.  We are delighted to be working with all the partners in developing a PB infrastructure for the future”.

PB has been delivered by councils, municipalities and governments all over the world since it first emerged in Brazil in the 1980s. The City of Paris currently spends EUR100m every year through PB and nearly 160,000 people participated in the process last year.

Closer to home, Councils across Scotland have adopted PB as one way of meeting their obligations under the Community Empowerment Act; South Dublin County Council also recently undertook its first PB pilot.

Last year, Triangle Housing Association were the first to try out PB in Northern Ireland and building on that success, the Waste No Time Partnership, funded by the Trust through its Civic Activism Programme, is working with Causeway Coast and Glens Council to realise a further pilot next year.

There is great potential for PB to benefit communities and re-energise civic participation across Northern Ireland.  It fits well with the new Council structures and in particular their Community Planning function which includes a requirement to actively involve the public. A number of Councils and public agencies have already expressed an interest and were involved in the planning of the project.

The project’s first step will be  a series of awareness roadshows in the coming months to ensure key people in the public and VCSE sectors are aware of the opportunity.  For those that want to develop an idea further , expert training and facilitation support will be provided.

For further information about the project please contact Louise O’Kane at Community Places via Louise@communityplaces.info


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