Participatory Budgeting in action in Burnhill

Published: Tuesday 1 February 2022

This image shows young people who will benefit from the community garden in Burnhill holding the amount of money the group was awarded in cardboard cut out numbers

Money for a community garden and outdoor play equipment has been awarded to an action group in Burnhill.

Funding for both projects came from a Participatory Budgeting (PB) exercise, which gives local people a direct say in how public money is spent.

In total £4,200 was awarded to Burnhill Action Group, with £2,604 for the play equipment and £1,596 for the community garden.

The outdoor play fund meant the group could deliver a range of activities with young people and their families throughout school holidays. They purchased equipment that will help them deliver sports and games within the community, as well as enabling young people and their families an opportunity to engage with others, build friendships and reduce isolation in a safe and fun environment. The community will be able to access this equipment to organise more events and activities in the coming months.

The community garden fund meant work can start on a Community Garden situated within Burnhill’s “High Backs” which was an unused piece of land. The group worked with local residents, including young people, to design a vision for the land and this will include a growing space, picnic areas and safe areas for families to get together and enjoy time outdoors. This will give local people the opportunity to get involved in growing their own fruit and vegetables and to learn new skills while socialising with their neighbours.

Lizzie McDonald of Burnhill Action Group, said: “We were delighted to be successful following the PB exercise. It shows the difference that can be made in your local community and we can’t wait until the work is completed, hopefully by the summer.

“I would encourage anyone else thinking about getting involved in something similar in their own area to go for it – we are all excited to have a space which the community will be able to call their own.”

The council’s Deputy Leader and Chair of the Community Planning Partnership, Councillor Maureen Chalmers, said: “The PB process gives local people the opportunity to decide where money should be spent in their local area and we are delighted with the plans Burnhill Action Group have in place.

“I would encourage communities across South Lanarkshire to find out more and get involved in the PB process – we recognise that no-one knows better than local people what would benefit their area.”

The PB process was planned using the PB charter. The charter is for everyone involved in a participatory budgeting process – whether planning activities or going along to vote, the charter is a set of seven key features showing what a fair and high quality PB process should look like: Fair and Inclusive, Participatory, Deliberative, Empowering, Creative and Flexible, Transparent, Part of our Democracy.

The Burnhill community had the opportunity to vote online and in person as a link was shared via South Lanarkshire Council and Local Social media pages. Outdoor voting stations were also used to gather feedback.

The votes were then counted and the projects with the most votes were allocated funding to allow their projects to get underway. Unsuccessful projects have been offered support to find other sources of funding or to explore other ways to help get the project up and running.

The small grants participatory budgeting fund supports neighbourhood planning in specific areas across South Lanarkshire. Neighbourhood plans are created by communities and help them to work together with partners to deliver improvements in their areas.

More details about the PB process and the work of the Community Engagement Team in supporting this is available from the council website.