Local Green Party Representative Joe O’Brien has announced an initiative that he hopes can radically change how public money is spent at local level by harnessing the €100,000 that has been allocated by Fingal County Council for improvements in Skerries Library.
This is a huge opportunity for the community in Skerries and Fingal County Council to come together and do something genuinely different, radical and democratic by piloting what is known as Participatory Budgeting. This is a process whereby Local Authorities hand over the decision making of part of budget to the people of a community. It works for all the world like a TV talent show which engages its audiences by giving them a direct say in who wins, or in the case of Participatory Budgeting, how money is spent. The big benefits of using such a model in local government is that it enhances democracy by handing real power back to the people it also gets people participating in local communities who would otherwise never get involved, particularly young people.
For many years there has been talk about improving and reforming local government, its time to actually do something about it. Earlier this year I held a public meeting in Skerries about Participatory Budgeting (PB). PB has been practiced extensively in other countries including the UK. In 2015 Fingal County Council plan to spend €100,000 on Skerries Library. No specifics have been drawn up yet as to how this money will be spent. I have written to the Fingal County Manager to ask him to open a public consultation process on how this €100,000 of our money will be spent on our library and also to consider allocating a proportion of the allocated money to a PB process for the people of Skerries.
There are more good ideas in Skerries on how this money would be best used than any group of officials or indeed Councillors can think of – it needs to be put to the public. For example there is unused public land at the back of the library that could be used for badly needed extra space for people using the library. A public consultation would elicit more ideas on how the community could engage with the library space and how it could become an even better, more useful and accessible social and educational space for the community. A PB process would enhance community ownership and involvement in our library. I am asking the people of Skerries to contact the County Manager (He can be e-mailed at email@example.com ) to ask him to open a public consultation on the allocated funds for Skerries library and/or a Participatory Budgeting process for a proportion of the funds.
For more information on how PB works see www.pbnetwork.org.uk
Contact Joe O’Brien at 087-9608540 or firstname.lastname@example.org