Participatory Budgeting on Highways in East Salford, Lancashire, UK

April 4, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
January 8, 2019 Jaskiran Gakhal, Participedia Team
October 18, 2017 Jez Hall
July 26, 2013 Jez Hall

In order to effectively allow local residents to engage in the democratic process of allocating resources toward proposals on highways and transportation in East Salford, participatory budgeting events were implemented.

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Problems and Purpose

A series of three events took place "across the neighbourhood area of East Salford, home to over 30,000 residents, £85,000 of highways capital funding was allocated to 6 schemes to address local priorities" [1]. The participatory budgeting "event attracted 145 people, and proved to be an effective way of empowering local residents to influence decisions about their area" [1]. 

The goal of the event was stated as increasing the amount of local residents involved in allocating resources towards improving the highways [1]. The funds were "aimed to address community priorities regarding highways and transport issues, and was open to consideration of a wide range of proposals from road safety projects, to walkway improvements" [1].

Background History and Context

One of eight neighbourhood areas in the city of Salford, East Salford comprises three wards, home to about 35,000 individuals [1]. The "area is an urban environment located on the fringe of Salford and Manchester" [1].

East Salford "ranks highly on deprivation indicators, and is an area undergoing significant regeneration and development" [1]. The community is diverse, and includes a large orthodox Jewish community and growing numbers of migrant workers [1].

In the year 2006, "Salford City Council made a decision to devolve decision making for the allocation of £100,000 of highways capital funding to each of the eight community committees in the city" [1]. Then, "in 2007, community committee decided to trial allocation through public participatory budgeting, as opposed to the budget sub group it had previously." [1] A planning committee to set up the process was implemented, consisting of local officials and representatives of the community [1]. Supported by the "neighbourhood management team and partners, the scheme was promoted, and the community were invited to put forward proposals for consideration" [1].

Following this, "all of the eligible schemes were looked at by a highways engineer, and a rough scheme was developed with approximate costs" [1]. The result was twenty schemes being drafted into proposals that would then be discussed and assessed at the future participatory budgeting events [1]. Given "the large size, and diverse nature of the neighbourhood, it was decided to run the event across three venues in order to ensure that participation was accessible to people throughout the area, and help reduce the risk of votes being biased by the location" [1].

Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities

With the Community Committee, The Neighbourhood Management Team coordinated, planned and delivered the scheme [1].

The "highways and engineering department worked with the group to provide technical advice and develop proposals to address the issues raised" [1]. The "New Deal for Communities team leading the regeneration in part of the area were key partners in the development and delivery" [1]. Local councillors supported the process and contributed to the planning and development of it [1].

Participant Recruitment and Selection

Local residents, and community and voluntary groups helped to promote the events in their community, and some contributed to the planning of the events through the community committee [1].

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 [2].    

What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation

The "community committee helped to promote the events, and everyone from the area was encouraged to attend and vote on their preferred schemes" [1]. The "neighbourhood newsletter, local newspapers, emails, website, posters, leaflets and Community Radio were used to get the word out in the community and encourage people to attend" [1]. 

On the day of the event, participants registered as they arrived and were handed a scoring sheet where they would score proposals after viewing them [1]. At the final event of the day, the ballots were added up, and the most popular schemes were announced. The "top schemes are now being developed by the highways engineers and being prepared for implementation. and the most popular schemes were announced" [1]. The top schemes are now being developed by the highways engineers and being prepared for implementation. 

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects 

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Analysis and Lessons Learned 

The events were a success in directly involving and engaging with more people in the allocation of the funding [1]. They "attracted new people who had not previously attended community committees" [1].

The events displayed strong partnership working between members of the local community, elected members and other agencies such as the Neighbourhood Management, Highways, New Deal for Communities [1].

The schemes prioritised through this process are yet to be delivered so the practical outcomes in terms of the improvements are difficult to identify [1]. However, it is clear that in terms of community engagement, and involvement the events have provided an opportunity for empowering and engaging local communities.

See Also

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting in Salford, UK 


[1] Retrieved from Accessed on: 26/07/2013

External Links

Participatory Budgeting: a draft national strategy Giving more people a say in local spending Consultation  

Salford Participatory Budgeting 2018 


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: Salford Highway