Friday, February 12, 2010

Kensington and Fairfield Participatory Budget event - update

I promised to let you know how the Kensington and Fairfield Participatory Budget event went earlier this week.

The first thing I can tell you is that we had 79 voting residents and probably another 20 officers from LCC, or partners or agencies, present, as well as us three Labour councillors of course. This will definitely have been the biggest attendance at an event like this in the city of Liverpool, but then we ordinarily get the biggest turnout at Your Community Matters events too, so this is not surprising.

The second thing of interest is that thanks to our extensive networking and collection of data about community groups and organisations within our ward, which we regularly share with LCC and LCVS, we were able to attract 16 separate bids for funds.

Those 16 groups each then made a 3 minute presentation on why they would like a share of the funding on offer and what they would do with it. The 79 residents then had the opportunity to ask questions about the bids before they voted, using voting key pads, for each bid, scoring from 0 to 5 points for each one depending on the impact they thought it would have in the community.

I should point out that the three councillors were not allowed to vote, or to speak about any of the bids or to offer any guidance or thoughts, neither were the bids shared with us before the event. Despite being elected by them, to represent the people of Kensington and Fairfield, we were totally excluded from this process – other of course than attending, although ironically an unelected political opponent would have been able to vote if in attendance and living within the boundaries of the ward. I think we do have some concerns about this and will be taking them up through the District Chair’s meetings or the District Committee.

The contributions were generally of a good standard and every one of the 79 people stayed all the way to the end – nearly 3 hours – so that the people whose presentations were later on in the process were not disadvantaged. This is remarkable in itself. They also enjoyed the free supper (scouse and vegetable curry) that we put on at every YCM, I think that is another reason why our events are so popular. I cannot understand why other wards have stopped doing this as it is so clearly a crowd puller.

The winning bids were from

Lister Residents Association £2538 – for their community garden in Lister Crescent
Liverworld Community Sports £3000 – for football work to bring different communities together
Kensington Vision CIC £2050 – for KVfm
Kensington and Fairfield Voice £2700 – for 6 editions of the popular local newsletter
Kensington Monarch Majorettes £2720 – for travel and expenses to help the young people to maintain their involvement (this was probably the most popular bid of the night and certainly merited the most cheers)
L’Arche £1810 – for a project to grow vegetables with local school children on land at their Lockerby Road premises

Some extra cash may be available to help fund the following projects; Volunteer Reading Help and Black Box who did well in the voting but not quite well enough.

It was a fantastic event that we were proud to compere, I look forward to the next one. There will no doubt be photographs to upload at some point.


scouseboy said...

We have got our event in Warbreck on monday night. I'm looking forward to it.

Paula Keaveney said...

I actually agree about the problem of councillors being excluded. Obviously the point of this is to enable the community to have a vote but I think we have gone too far in limiting councillors roles in these cases. In my own ward we didn't have enough applications annoyingly but I only found this out by proactively asking and it took a follow up question to find out who the actual applications were from!! I can't see why LCVS couldn't just share the info with elected members when it came in. I also feel that councillors should be able to speak in support of bids. I set up an organisation in Cressington for example and had they applied I would have had the mad situation whereby I couldn't actually talk about the need despite having done something to recognise it!!

Louise Baldock said...

Thanks Paula, I have just met our district staff to discuss. Our event was clearly the best attended but we have a lot of issues about who put applications in, how they were judged, who turned up for the voting etc. It was a great event with a massive attendance, but it could still be better and that is my current focus, how we can make the next one bigger and better. I appreciate your thoughts so, we should work together on this.