Social Democrats councillor Joan Hopkins will be calling for an award-winning local authority project, called ‘Participatory Budgeting,’ to be expanded into Fingal County when she puts forward a motion at this month’s council meeting.

According to Cllr Hopkins, the idea for ‘Participatory Budgeting’ is that local residents get a direct say on which local projects should be funded by the council. An award-winning project in South Dublin County Council has led the way for the concept in Ireland, where €300,000 was set aside and locals were invited to submit proposals on how it should be spent.

Once the proposals were collated, residents were given 17 projects to choose from and there was a public vote on which ones would receive the funding. Everyone in a given area had a vote, including children. The winning projects included a multi-games wall, a playground, Christmas lights, free library book banks, a public piano, an urban orchard and new recycling facilities.

Cllr Hopkins said:

“The project in South Dublin was a resounding success and has been highly acclaimed in an independent review. Every community in Ireland should have the chance to have their say on how their taxes are spent locally. It puts the community in control and promotes very significant community buy-in for local projects.

“There are so many great possibilities with Community Budgeting. It could fund improvements to community centres, youth cafes, sports facilities, older persons’ facilities or simply improve the local environment in terms of biodiversity, safe school routes, tree and flower planting etc.

“Fingal County Council are very forward looking in terms of civic engagement but we can always do better. I was surprised that not all councillors were convinced of the merits of this progressive initiative. We have a budget of €280million – this is the people’s money and they should have a say on how it is spent. I am not giving up on the idea yet and I will now take it to the Council’s Organisation, Procedures and Finance for voting.

“We’ve seen the success of the X-Factor and the Eurovision in terms of engaging people by giving them a vote. Community Budgeting can do the same and bring real, tangible benefits to local communities all around the country.”

January 19, 2021

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