Council Leader Barbara Janke at the launch of www.itsmybristol.org on Friday
Here’s a fun little project we’ve been doing for Bristol City Council over the last few months. Participatory Budgeting, especially doing it online, is a hot topic at the moment, with lots of conferences, discussion papers and ponderings going on.
True to the sort of form that’s seen them become the UK leader for online participation work though, Bristol have just gone and got on with it.
They’ve set aside £15,000 for the wards of Clifton, Clifton East and Cabot to be allocated for spending via an online discussion. For those that don’t know Bristol, Cabot is basically the city centre, and the two bits of Clifton are up on the hill by the Suspension Bridge and thereabouts.
To carry out the project, the council’s using our Dialogue App, which will enable people to suggest ideas for what the money should be spent on, and allow others to vote for the ideas they support. Whilst the final decision on spending can’t legally rest with ‘the internet’, the council has committed to stick by the decisions made by participants, so long as they are legal. Vox Populi, Vox Dei then.Top stuff.
One interesting thing about this pilot too, is that the authority is reasonably relaxed about who participates in it. Given that Cabot in particular, being the city centre, is a ward thats used by far more people than live in it, the council just wants to know where people are from when responding, rather than trying to enforce a rule that only residents of those wards can take part, which would in practice be pretty unenforceable anyway.