Dulverton Sensible Spending Participatory Budget (Somerset, UK)
- General Issues
- Specific Topics
- Budget - Local
- Scope of Influence
- Start Date
- End Date
- Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
- Decision Methods
- If Voting
- Preferential Voting
Dulverton parish council has been implementing PB since 2009, and developed an innovative approach in 2013 which involves a number of organisations and budgets that are spent in Dulverton, involving locals in deciding how they can best be spent.
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Problems and Purpose
Participatory budgeting (PB) in Dulverton began with a parish plan and a Total Place calculation showing nine authorities spend £10m each year on public services in the town. The aim of the PB exercise was to create a more effective use of resources available to the town, rather than excess money.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The organizing and supporting entities involved in bringing about this initiative were: Dulverton Town Council, West Somerset District Council, Somerset County Council, National Parks, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue, Devon and Somerset Police, Somerset Health, and Magna Housing.
The Town Council worked hard to ensure that these authorities became involved in the PB process, which took considerable negotiation over eighteen months. Eventually, four authorities gave a total of £15,000 and four others provided support in kind for local residents to agree how these budgets should be spent.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
This initiative uses participatory budgeting, an increasingly common method of democratic innovation broadly described as "a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources." There are many benefits associated with participatory budgeting including increased civic and democratic education; increased government transparency; and an increased opportunity for participation by historically marginalized populations. 
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
At the event, ‘Sensible Spending’, 60 people prioritised and voted on 18 funding bids. A group voting system was employed which led to the amalgamation of some bids, and gifts to less popular applications. Community cohesion was enhanced by a system which avoided ‘losers’. Projects funded include road salting in winter, a fortnightly cinema, as well as initiatives for youth and mental health. At further public events since, 430 residents voted to increase their precept by 50% to mitigate other authorities’ cuts, form four action groups of 70 new volunteers, and allocate further local funding to play provision, young people and under grounding cables.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
On the back of the success of its PB events, Dulverton Town Council was chosen to participate in the national ‘Your Local Budget’ programme and has developed a local traffic management plan; the Council is also negotiating devolution of services and budgets with the District, and community budgeting with the County, supported by the PB Unit. Local people have taken on tough spending decisions, building on the pioneering approaches to PB that have been developed around the world
Analysis and Lesson Learned
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 Original source of case study: http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/case-studies/case-studies/sensible-spending-in-dulverton-somerset [broken link]
This case study was originally submitted to the Participatory Budgeting Unit by the organisers of the project, using a template supplied by the PB Unit.
Lead Image: Sensible Spending PB Dulverton/Magna Housing https://goo.gl/z4Wk3w