Voice Your Choice Participatory Budgeting in Manton, Worksop, Nottinghamshire
- General Issues
- Specific Topics
- Budget - Local
- Scope of Influence
- Start Date
- End Date
This case study details the methods and tools used by organizers to achieve high numbers of participation during the two years Manton Community Alliance in Worksop, Nottinghamshire held participatory budgeting events to build trust and increase democratic involvement.
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Problems and Purpose
The short-term aim of the process was to build trust within the community and to give residents real power over the way that the Manton Community Alliance leverage money is spent in the area. The board agreed that residents would never really have any power until they held the purse strings for their area and felt as if they really could make a difference.
Longer term the aims are to increase democratic activity in the area (current turnout for local elections in Manton is 22% compared with 35% across the district) and shape the way organisations deliver services in the area.
Background History and Context
Manton is a large estate in the south east ward of Worksop in Nottinghamshire. It has a population of over 6500 residents, the estate is an ex pit village and was built around the mine that closed in 1994. As of this writing, Manton had completed two cycles of the participatory budgeting process (in 2007 and 2008). The pilot year achieved a total of 498 votes throughout the whole process while participation in the second year increased by 113% with 1056 votes.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Manton Community Alliance includes two local authorities, PCT, police, community and voluntary service, local ALMO and schools, Surestart, FE College, and job centre plus.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Manton Residents were involved at every stage of the process. A scrutiny panel was set up to oversee the process and to make sure that the projects that were submitted fitted in with the residents priorities. The panel included Local residents; a local councillor (involved in the second year), Local authority officers, MCA board members and MCA staff to support the group. Local councillors were part of the scrutiny panel and were present at voting events to oversee the official counts.
Manton Community Alliance team supported and co-ordinated the entire process from the development of the engagement tools to the delivery of the voting points.
In the second year of the budgeting each voting stage was promoted by advertising in the local newsletter, inviting people that had voted in the previous year or had been involved in other MCA events, website, leaflets in schools and shops and word of mouth.
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
During 2006, the MCA board researched participatory budgeting and the MCA team developed ways in which it could be used in Manton.
In 2007 the Manton Community Alliance board agreed to give the opportunity for local residents to decide where £50,000 of the MCA leverage money should be spent through a participatory budgeting process. In 2008 the MCA board gave £40,000 and Bassetlaw PCT agreed to give £10,000 of their budget to the process.
A scrutiny panel was set up to oversee the process and to make sure that the projects that were submitted fitted in with the residents priorities. The panel included Local residents; a local councillor (involved in the second year), Local authority officers, MCA board members and MCA staff to support the group.
The Scheme was promoted as “Voice your Choice” and there were three stages to the process:
- People decide what the priorities are through local events.
- People decide what proportion of the money is allocated to each priority.
- People decide which project/organisation gets the money to address the identified priorities.
For the first stage we used a Budget bingo sheet. This was a bingo sheet that had 42 priorities that we had identified using the knowledge collected from our issue groups and resident members. We asked people to number their top 5 priorities, 1 being the most important.
The second stage was the money allocation and to give a real feeling of voting making a difference we used official local authority ballot boxes and Manton money (each resident was given £50,000 in £5000 denominations) residents were asked to put the amount of money they wanted to spend on a priority into one of the ten priority boxes that we had identified from the budget bingo.
Once the first two stages were completed local organisations, groups and services are invited to bid for the money by offering projects that would address the priorities. The scrutiny panel reviewed the bids and shortlisted projects for the project voting stage.
In 2007 the successful groups and organisations were invited to promote their projects at a voting event held in a community hall. Each project was given the same amount of space and time to promote their idea. People were asked to register for their voting sheet at the entrance.
After the 2007 process it was realized that having a room full of displays for projects that are competing against each other could potentially cause tension between community groups so, in 2008 organizers made a DVD of each of the proposed projects doing a short TV style advert for their idea. Each of the projects submitted the outline of the project and the script was developed by MCA staff to make sure that each project was given the same amount of time.
The DVD meant that voting was no longer confined to one place in the community. Organizers brought voting booths the played the DVD on a laptop at numerous community groups and organisations, local cafés and work places. As well, special voting points were set up and the voting process took place over a week to make sure that more people got the chance to vote.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Many people who took part in the process had never voted before. It was hoped that increased involvement in participatory budgeting would result in more people voting in elections (current turn out in Manton is only 22% compared with 35% across the District).
Participation in PB in year 2 (2008) increased by 113% with 1056 voters compared with year 1 (2007).
The process has led to services being more closely linked to particular local priorities and it is hoped that this will bridge an expectation gap as some services become more tailor made for local need. Although further evaluation is needed regarding outcomes there is evidence that environmental services are changing because of participatory budgeting for example in the removal of white goods from the area.
Investment into the redevelopment of Manton Club is delivering substantial return in attracting external funding into the venue. The Manton Club is a major player locally and this re-development will deliver added value to Manton and the surrounding area in terms of access to sport, improved public health and more activities for children and young people. The PB process has given £5000 towards the redevelopment of the Club. As a result of this investment, the Club has attracted a further £37,000 in other funding for the area.
On top of that most projects came with either match funding or a contribution towards the projects. This has resulted in a further £18,500 being invested into the area on the back of the PB process.
Some of the comments in answer to the question ‘what did you like about PB’ from local people referred to in the National PB Unit’s evaluation of Manton in year 1 (2007) included: ‘Having my voice heard’, ‘A simple approach and personal contact’, ‘A chance to see what is happening’, ‘Interesting to see the various projects’, ‘It is time to see something being done in our community’, ‘having my say, and great photos’, ‘fostering good relations between the community and the police’, and ‘freedom of choice’. 
In answer to the question ‘Why did you attend the event?’ PB unit’s evaluation of Manton reported:
“Most of the comments around this question were about wanting to support and change their community. ‘I came to make a difference’ was one comment. There was a widespread view that people felt a need for change in the community. Others wanted to ‘make our money go round’, ‘to make a difference for us and the children under us’; ‘to make my mark’; and ‘to have a vote’. One said that they were ‘sick of politicians telling us what they can’t do for us, and to have a vote and make them accountable is brilliant!’ Some of the comments suggested that some capacity building around political structures and processes would be a good thing” .
As part of the National PB Unit’s evaluation of Manton’s PB process a sample of 22% of people who attended made the following general comments: "I would do this again" (76%); "I’m having a good time" (71%); "The day is well organised" (70%); "This is a good way of getting people involved" (69%); "I feel I have been listened to" (67%); "I feel more involved now" (61%); "I feel like I have made a difference" (59%). 
As well as the more formal interviews, PB Unit staff also had some extended but less formal conversations with people. Of particular interest were those with ward councillors who attended for part of the event. “.....these were full of admiration for MCA and what they felt it was achieving in the area. They were similarly enthusiastic about the PB event itself and felt it was one of the ways in which MCA was rebuilding a sense of community in the area.” 
Analysis and Lesson Learned
In the future, organizers aim to encourage partners to contribute to PB by committing finance into the process, committing to deliver particular services to meet local priorities highlighted by a PB process, applying the outcomes of PB into mainstream service delivery, and merging PB processes with the development of a Neighbourhood Charter.
A full evaluation of the two-year process is now available and looks at community responses to the process, outcomes of the projects funded, what difference PB has made to local people, their neigbourhood and mainstream services, and whether the process is too long.
 Original Source: Foster, K. (n.d.). Voice Your Choice, Manton, Nottinghamshire. Retrieved from https://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/case-studies/voice-your-choice-manton-nottinghamshire/
 National PB Units Evaluation of Manton (2007).
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: Manton Community Alliance https://goo.gl/8B7VEN
Secondary Image: Manton Community Alliance/Community Planning Toolkit https://goo.gl/8B7VEN