Buckinghamshire County Council took a different approach to participatory budgeting. Rather than trial a small grants pot, as many cities have when starting out, Buckinghamshire piloted 4 different kinds of PB at once, aiming to integrate PB as the way they engage the community.
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Problems and Purpose
Buckinghamshire County Council are working with district councils in all parts of the county to pilot different models of participatory budgeting around the county. The aim is to integrate PB as a way of life in Buckinghamshire. They have recently gained the approval of the Executive and are looking to begin implementation in Autumn. Rather than trial a small grants pot, as most would when starting out with PB, Buckinghamshire is piloting 4 different kinds of PB at once. The council aims to integrate PB as 'the way we do community engagement'. The areas they are looking at using PB in are:
- Young people – Youth Opportunities Fund and Positive Activities for Young People
- Devolved budgets to wards
- Transportation: £500K to each of 19 local community areas
- Broad priorities for Council budget – focus on health inequalities with Primary Care Trust
- Local Area Agreement Safer and Stronger Communities block in partnership with the police
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
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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 .
Deliberation, Decisions, and Public Interaction
The following information was adapted from the website of Buckinghamshire County Council :
"In 2012, two LAFs ran participatory budgeting projects in Greater Aylesbury, an area encompassing Aylesbury and eight other rural and urban parishes, and also Wendover which included five neighbouring parishes. Around 2,350 residents voted in Greater Aylesbury and 600 local people voted in Wendover local area.
Both projects actively sought to engage with all sectors of the community, including young people, in particular those aged 11 and above.
Residents were given a variety of opportunities to participate, by voting online or by paper voting in ballot boxes which were placed in locations including shops, pubs, health centres, community centres and other community facilities.
Voting also took place at market stall events held to encourage resident participation, family fun days, activities for young people and at a school-wide project. We didn’t just wait for residents to vote, but went out to actively seek local involvement.
A key part of the projects’ success was the involvement of partner agencies, community groups, local businesses, local media and community facilities, who were willing to promote, actively help and get the word out about each project."The following information was taken from "Choose 4 Greater Aylesbury":
"Voting was open to all residents in the Greater Aylesbury area, either online at: www.choose4greateraylesbury.com or via paper voting in ballot boxes throughout the area. Voting was undertaken by ranking the top four project choices from 1—5 (with 1 being the highest). The top three projects would receive the full funding requested and the subsequent two would be part funded. Residents were asked for postcode and name, to preclude the likelihood of multiple voting and check that voters came from the relevant area. All ballot forms not containing postcode and name details, or with ticks instead of ranking, have been disqualified. The majority of the 1,960 valid votes were collected from the ballot boxes."
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
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Analysis and Lessons Learned
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"Glow in the Park, Vote in the Dark" Participatory Budgeting (Buckinghamshire, UK)
 http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/community/participatory-budgeting#.UfuQtKyYfVU [broken link]
Original Source: http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/case-studies/case-studies/an-integrated-approach-to-pb-in-buckinghamshire [DEAD LINK]
National Evaluation of Participatory Budgeting in England
For more detailed information on the work undertaken to develop and run the two participatory projects, including voting numbers and project outcomes:
- Choose 4 Greater Aylesbury [broken link]
- Wendover Decides 2012 broken link]
Videos were produced on the Choose 4 Greater Aylesbury participatory budgeting project which ran during 2012:
- Greater Aylesbury community forum
- Wendover decides
- Mandeville School participatory budgeting project
- Choose 4 Greater Aylesbury market stall event
Lead Image: Council Participatory Budgeting https://goo.gl/hiwgwR
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.