Shetland Islands Council is asking residents to discuss and prioritise how they would like to see £100,000 spent on local services.
The council has been successful in applying to the Scottish government’s Community Choices Fund for money to build on existing Participatory Budgeting (PB) work, to move towards more community involvement in decisions about SIC spending.
PB will allow communities to have direct input into the decisions being made over the allocation of resources in their communities, by voting on how they think a budget should be spent.
The Scottish government has provided £50,000 and the SIC will also provide another £50,000, to make £100,000 available for Shetland’s own Community Choices project.
An online voting system is now open to preview the different projects on offer and individuals will then be able to decide which projects to allocate funding to from Monday 13th to Saturday 25th March.
Residents will also be able to vote by post or in person at a “market stall” type event on Saturday 25th March, when residents can drop in to speak directly with project leads before casting their vote.
The council has also provided £9,000, which has been match funded by the Scottish government, to support three small grant projects in Skerries, Fetlar and Bressay.
Other PB events have taken place in Shetland since 2010, with seven small grants projects being delivered previously by local communities and community councils, and more than 700 people and 52 voluntary groups taking part in 2016.
SIC political leader Gary Robinson said it was hoped that, in time, this approach would allow communities to decide budget priorities, to make decisions about how one-off or external funding was spent, or be involved in commissioning a council-provided service.
Mr Robinson said: “The aim in the long term is to have at least one per cent of the council’s budget decided by a PB method and for increased community involvement to be a more routine way of working.
“This approach can really engage and empower the community in discussions on public budgets. The challenge remains for us to scale up the influence of the community over the mainstream money spent by the council.”
• The Shetland Community Choices website is at: https://shetland.participare.io