OVER 50 local people got involved in the Forward West Fife event at Tulliallan Castle last weekend and took decisions on how to spend £60,000 in their communities.
Now local groups including Kincardine Scouts and Valleyfield Youth Football Club are set to benefit from the cash boost.
Fife Council, in partnership with the Coalfields Regeneration Trust and Forward West Fife Steering Group asked people from Kincardine, Saline, Steelend, Culross, Low Valleyfield, High Valleyfield, Newmills and Torryburn to come up with ideas for projects that could help regenerate the area following the closure of Longannet Power Station.
The participatory budgeting approach involves local people in deciding how public funding is spent in their area, coming up with ideas and then deciding which projects should receive funding by taking part in a voting process. The council and the Scottish Government funded the “Forward West Fife” project to the tune of £60,000.
However funding requests for projects came to over £140,000, and according to Fife Council’s Area Manager for South West Fife, Alastair Mutch, it made for a competitive decision day where every vote mattered.
He added: “Participatory budgeting was a recommendation from the Fairer Fife Commission as a way of creating a Fairer Fife, getting people involved and giving them a direct say in where public money can make a difference to their communities.
“Everyone who came along to the event represented their local projects and had to pitch to each other in a “speed dating” exercise.
“The room was a real hub of activity and each project had three minutes to sell their project and to outline why it should receive funding and to visit each of the other projects in the room to hear about their project and to ask questions. Once the three minutes were up – people had to move on and ‘speed-date’ the next project. There was a range of projects seeking funding from youth groups, sports groups and community councils for anything from play equipment to toilets!”
At the end of the speed-dating exercise, project representatives then re-convened back in their groups to discuss and agree as a group, how to distribute their ten votes across the various projects. Groups could not vote for themselves.”
Following the voting exercise, South West Fife Area Chair, Cllr Bobby Clelland said: “The decision-making element proved challenging for people as they had heard all about the need for, and benefit of, valuable local community projects yet there was a finite amount of money. Overall however, it was clear that votes were distributed across the various communities and people looked beyond their own geography to support those projects they felt were most valuable.”
Added Cllr Clelland; “I was delighted to meet with the volunteers from our communities and to hear their ambitions for their areas. We are much richer in South West Fife for their contribution and for providing opportunities for people or by in improving their area. I was pleased to support the event by awarding the cheques to the successful projects. I wish them every success. Council officers and our colleagues at Coalfields Regeneration Trust are available to work with unsuccessful projects to support them to identify other possible sources of funding.”
Forward West Fife – Project Winners
The 11 winners from the 19 projects pitched on the day: