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March 7, 2012

Thumbs up to PB

Earlier this year, Local People Leading, reported on City of Edinburgh Council plans to develop its interest in participatory budgeting.  This was the second year that the people of Leith had been given the chance to vote on who got what from a pot of £17,500. More than 700 people pitched up to have their say – which in itself says something of the appetite for this kind of approach. Here’s what one of the groups that sought funding thought about the experience.



Greener Leith was among the 21 successful projects that gained funding at the 2012 Leith Decides event – after hundreds of Leithers voted on which projects should win funding. We’d therefore like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who voted for us.

If you voted for us, we hope you’ll join us on one of the community clean-up events we now have the funding to organise over the summer. We’ll announce the dates as soon as possible on this blog and

Here are details of the other projects/organisations that won funding:

Pulse of the Place – £1000

6th Leith/1st Nehaven Scout Group – £653

Fort Youth and Community Centre – £961

Central Leith After-school Provision (CLASP) – £1000

Citadel Youth Centre – £1000

Stanwell Nursery Parents Council – £395

Newhaven Coastal Rowing Club – £1000

Leith Festival Association – £819

Leith Community Theatre – £1000

Friends of Leith Primary – £1000

Out of the Blue – £1860

Victoria Primary School PTA – £350

The Ripple Project – £861

Lorne Primary School PTA – £1000

Strange Town Theatre Company – £1000

Edinburgh Leisure – £1000

The Junction – £505

Edinburgh Garden Partners – £1000

You can find out more details about all the applications on the Leith Neighbourhood Partnership page.

Whilst it’s probably better to involve 700 locals in the decision making process over which projects get funding, only about two thirds of the projects that applied were successful in the end.

Perhaps the biggest risk of this approach is that it becomes a ‘beauty contest’ with worthy projects that work with a socially excluded client base, or may be controversial, or minority areas of activity, losing out because they can’t generate the turn-out or the public support on the day to get the necessary votes.

On the other hand, there’s clearly a public appetite for more of this sort of thing. The number of applications, and the number of people registering to vote, are well up on last year when Leith Decides ran for the first time in Leith Academy.

It would also be hard to put a value on the informal networking and learning that took place between the volunteers on the various projects as they walked from stall to stall.

The process can always be improved and the public officials behind it will be looking at how they could improve it again for next year. Because there surely will be a next year, right?

In fact, after the success of Leith Decides 2012 it would seem that there may be a much more compelling case to boost the amount of cash that is allocated this way in Leith – and to try giving other areas of the city the same opportunities that Leithers have had to influence the way money is spent.