The town of St. Asaph in the Welsh county of Denbighshire implemented a participatory budgeting pilot in 2008 in order to engage local residents in the democratic decision-making process of allocating resources to address community cohesion, safety, and environmental concerns.
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Problems and Purpose
In December 2008, the St. Asaph Town Council unanimously voted to carry out a participatory budgeting (PB) pilot, promoting community cohesion, safety, green, and intergenerational projects.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The St Asaph Council allocated £3,000 from its annual precept, and Denbighshire County Council (DCC) added a further £2,000 to the pot. DCC is already a powerful supporter of PB as a major community engagement process having contributed additional sums totalling £25,000 to other successful PB projects within the County.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The St. Asaph Town Council set the upper limit for individual project proposals at £1,500 each, devised a very simple application procedure, then hosted two advertised public information events to tell the community all about it. These were not very well attended, but the commitment from residents present was total, enthusiastic, and led to a very wide distribution of information and interest over the following weeks.
Thirteen proposals were submitted by the due date, and the working group (Councillors and residents working together) tuned these up, costed and smoothed the way for the voting event.
Further intense advertising for the big day paid off well, and over 90 turned up to decide on their preferred schemes, the meeting being chaired by The Dean of St Asaph, The Very Revd Christopher Potter.
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
The voting day attracted approximately 90 people. While confident presentations made the choice difficult, eleven of the thirteen made it through, scores being extremely tight. These included funding a new Friendship Youth Club, a Community Choir, school gardening project, new seats for the bowling club, exercise classes for older people, furniture and playground for young people, planting of thousands of Welsh daffodils.
Influence, Outcomes and Effects
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Analysis and Lesson Learned
Among the lessons learned was that even small pots can make substantial differences; small sums can facilitate huge changes.
Communities, once engaged, have been seen to be enthusiastic participants; the link between generation and between electorate and voters is one of the most beneficial long-term outcomes. Collaboration at all levels paid off handsomely. A willingness to do it again was observed, including extending PB into other areas and for different outcomes. Even initial detractors, once involved, become committed supporters.
Early and effective engagement is ideal, but continual evaluation and response to evidence is a vital component of success. The process is so simple and winning in nature that it is self-promoting.
Broad Working Group composition (plus observers from other areas) is highly effective, giving transparency, engendering confidence, removing suspicion and achieving far more than the original planned outcomes.
 Hall, J. and Budge, A. (2018). An Introduction to Participatory Budgeting in Wales. Retrieved from https://pbnetwork.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Wales-PB-presentation-april-2018.pdf:
 Retrieved from http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/case-studies/case-studies/eich-... [DEAD 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: https://goo.gl/jnL2zD