Following a successful pilot local communities will be given greater powers in allocating additional resources. The scope of these new powers will extend from mechanisms for tacking anti-social behaviour to provisions for new leisure facilities.
In her first major speech as Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears set-out a radical vision for the next stage of the Government’s devolution agenda with the ambition for every neighbourhood to have control of a ‘community kitty’ within five years.
Ten pilot projects have already been developed in Birmingham, Merseyside, Lewisham, Bradford, Salford, Sunderland, Newcastle, Southampton, Nottinghamshire (Manton) and St Helens.
The plan is to give local people a chance to examine and decide on how public budgets of up to more than £20 million are spent.
First pioneered in Brazil, ‘participatory budgeting’ gives communities the ability to take control of budgets through community-led debates, neighbourhood votes and public meetings.
It includes training for local people on how local council budgets work and how priorities are set.
This can enable local people to form an informed view, trigger action and direct resources at:
- Funding extra Community Safety Wardens to patrol the streets and tackle anti-social behaviour;
- Providing new play areas, greening public spaces, and improving the local environment;
- Calming traffic to improve road safety; and
- Funding extra police or CCTV.
In addition, she also announced £400,000 funding for projects in 20 areas where local authorities are working with communities to give them a chance to take ownership of assets in line with the recommendations of the Quirk Review.
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