Lewisham cash for the commumity participatory budgeting

I’m sure that one or two of you will remember that I’ve been both up and down about the participatory budgeting exercise that Lewisham was part of this year.

If this video is anything to go by I could have just stayed up.

My thanks to Alan Hall for brining the video to my attention.

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
This entry was posted in Civic Society, Lewisham and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Lewisham cash for the commumity participatory budgeting

  1. ross says:

    any chance of a brief synopsis as to the reasons for your joy/content of the video?

  2. Max says:

    The video says that:

    “Cllr Alan Hall supplemented funding for the Bellingham proposals through the area’s locality fund, bringing the overall funding awarded at the event to over £50,000 in total”

    Does it means that Bellingham didn’t spend its money that year?
    Does it mean that the Bellingham locality funds for Bellingham were awarded to Cllr Alan Hall that then in turn gave them to this event?
    Does Cllr Hall decide on the locality funding for Bellingham on his own?

    I don’t understand. Can somebody explain?

  3. Andrew Brown says:

    Content because it looks like the process has worked, and hopefully will that encourage it to spread.

    Couldn’t say why Alan is being bigged up as the budget daddy of Bellingham, I’d imagine a mistake rather than anything else.

  4. ross says:

    i’m the same confused about this as max is

    i thought the locality funds were chosen by ‘the people’ at the local assemblies, i havn’t listened to the video yet but from what’s written above it looks like the reverse of ‘community involvement’ in the budgeting process that had some people so joyful of late

    i’m pretty much ambivalent on this kind of ‘partcipatory budgeting’ anyway – smacks a bit of getting the public to do the council’s job of telling us what cutbacks there’s going to be, also a bit like multicultarist based funding strategies – ‘here’s a chunk of money now go and fight over it’

    the pittances they are talking about however means it won’t come to that, meaning it’s no more than a sop to try and pretend that councils do something more than administrate central govt budget decisions (a bit like the recent local assemblies initiatives)

  5. Andrew Brown says:

    No, the localities funds are as I understand it a matter for ward councillors to decide; though this may have changed with the new assemblies.

    As for whether it’s a sop or an abrogation of responsibility, all I can say is that it needn’t be.

  6. ross says:

    on the bit about local assemblies on lewisham councils website it says

    “The assembly is your chance to……….consider how the Locality Fund of £10,000 could be spent in your ward”

    as to the second bit, your right the theory of this kind of thing if put into practice on a decent scale and by those who are committed to it and with somehow assuring proper participation by all those impacted by the budget decisions can’t be argued with i suppose (however it could be viewed that like politics in the UK and most other places, only those who have the luxury of time & resource to attend & commit to these things may end up getting involved, therefore skewing the decision making, although short of a fundamental reorganisation of the social & economic system of society to enable fuller participation or physically forcing people to particpate i’ve no idea how that could actually be ensured)

    however given england has a strong history of centralising tendencies stretching back over a thousand years, and those tendencies continue to dominate policy & structure to this very day (i.e. one of the reasons that local councils are so hamstrung in being able to actually do much because of their real role as just administartors of central govt dictats), i’ll reserve judgement on them for the time being i think

  7. Andrew Brown says:

    My best guess is that who gets to decide where the localities funding goes is changing with assemblies becoming much more important, if not the decision makers.

    Your point about discrepancies of resources and power is well made and the designers of the process need to create mechanisms that reflect that. I don’t think it’s as hard to achieve as you suggest, after all they have managed it in Brazil, and the groups involved in the Lewisham pilots don’t seem to be just the powerful and rich.

    So I’m back being optimistic that the council can build on the experiences of last year and develop it further. And in years to come who knows we may see Mountsfield Park full with citizens debating and deciding the budget for Lewisham on a warm spring weekend.

  8. ross says:

    i just watched the video and it did confirm my view a bit that it’s like throwing a small amount of money into the ring and asking various groups to fight over it – something that could be quite divisive in the long term in that it does a good job of deflecting away any kind of pressures or movements to actually increase resources/funding overall to communities which could lead to a more unified approach to funding of these various disparate groups, but instead the focus seems to be more on getting them to compete with each other for the crumbs from the table

    i’d be interested in how much overall the gap between what was requested and what was given was

    i’d also be interested in seeing how much overall in terms of people’s time & resources the whole thing cost to do, clearly any kind of particpatory or real democratic process is going to cost more in terms of time & money which is a necessary and justified evil of doing something like that, however when the pot of money to be awarded is pretty small and the number of groups fighting over it are quite large and taking into account the cost of administrating the whole thing, it does make you wonder about the worth of the thing overall, if the plan was to build on those forums to ultimately devolve more and more budget decisions to them then i agree it’s worth the cost, however if that’s all we’re going to see, the high overhead costs of distributing such a small amount of money has to be questioned surely, which brings me back to thinking it’s more of a sop than anything else

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