What is £eith Chooses?
It is an annual community event. The local Leith community votes to allocate funding to projects put forward by local charities and community groups. This year, there is £56,102 available for community projects. But 20 projects have applied for up to £5,000 each, so not all can be successful in winning funding. Those projects that receive the most votes from the local community will get the money.
Read more about it all at www.leithchooses.net
Also Facebook LeithChooses and Twitter @leithchooses
Who can vote?
You are entitled to vote if you are 8 years old or over, and if you live, work, study (go to school or college) or volunteer regularly in Leith. You just need to give your post code or street name.
How to Vote?
This year all voting is online. This is not ideal, but it is a necessary safety measure because of the pandemic. It is good in that even larger numbers of people vote, online. But we are painfully aware that many other people in our community are ‘digitally excluded’. And we miss the grand ‘buzz’ that a live community event brings.
In ‘normal’ years (pre-Covid) there is a big event (usually in January) held in the Community Centre, when all the projects applying for funding come and ‘display’ their project ideas and talk to people about what they do. It is a fantastic way to learn about what is going on in the community, and to meet people and network. It is also a great fun day out for all ages– helped along by free food and drink, music, face-painting etc. etc. Many hundreds of people pour in and out of the Centre throughout the day and cast their votes in person. We hope to get back to this as soon as possible.
How many votes do I get?
You can only vote once, but you can cast three votes plus a fourth (optionally) for a project that specifically supports a project benefitting ethnic minorities in Leith.
You can help by reminding all your family and friends and colleagues to vote too, please!
Where did the money come from?
· £46,102 is from the City of Edinburgh Community Grants Fund
· £5,000 is from Trams to Newhaven
· £5,000 is a donation from Port of Leith Housing Association
What kind of projects benefit?
The projects applying for the funds are all designed to benefit the community in Leith. Each year, there is a general ‘theme’ to the projects. This year, the theme is:
Reconnecting in Leith: Nourishment, Creativity, Sustainability
Some of the projects focus particularly on one of these aspects, but many cross over two or all three, adding additional focus such as older people, or children and families etc.
£eith Chooses is called a Participatory Budgeting (PB) event – what does this mean?
It means that the people in the community engage and make decisions themselves about how public money is spent (rather than a panel of faceless bureaucrats in the Council or of ‘the great and the good’ making decisions for them). It began in Brazil in 1989 and has slowly spread around the world since then. Edinburgh – no - Leith specifically! - was one of the earliest pioneering adopters, with the first ‘£eith Decides’ (as it was then called) taking place in 2010. The Scottish Government wants all local authorities should commit to delivering at least 1% of its total budget via PB.
Why is PB a good thing?
It is a form of local democracy – ‘The people’ choose how to prioritise spending in their own area/ community. Who else could possibly know better what is most needed? Who could have more right to make decisions about the local community than the people who actually live and work there?
Some people criticise and say, well if only 3,000 people vote, in a district that has a population of maybe 25,000, is that really representative? We say – firstly, it’s a heck of a lot more representative than a Councillor chairing a panel of three or four members, which was the previous system. Secondly, that’s actually a large number of voters, compared with similar PB exercises elsewhere – Leith can pat itself on the back for its high level of community engagement.
If people in local communities feel that (for once?) their voice is heard, and THEY are being trusted to make the decisions, rather than the Council, hopefully that can work to strengthen respect and trust between the two
And apart from the voting and the money, the process itself is an excellent way to help people In the community to get to know each other, learn about all the brilliant voluntary and charity work and interesting community efforts going on in their own community, that otherwise they might not know about.
How’s PB working elsewhere?
In Paris, PB is widely promoted (and, crucially, the city has ensured that the Council has adequate funding and staff capacity to implement the system) and has set ambitious targets.
… Hidalgo’s new target (is to) to allow 25% of the city’s outlay from now until 2026 to be decided with the input of Parisians. This will include major consultations over any flagship projects or neighbourhood redevelopment in the city. With the coronavirus pandemic and other developments in society leading to tumbling confidence in governments, the move is seen by city hall as a crucial tool for building trust among residents, who will play a more active role in the ideas and decisions that shape their collective future.
How can I learn more about Participatory Budgeting in Scotland?
How can I get more involved, in Leith?
First of all, please vote!
The £eith Chooses team is a partnership between the City Council and the local community. It is largely composed of volunteers (several are Community Councillors, but they can be from local businesses, charities, or just interested residents) and we are always looking for new recruits - whether to join the Steering Group which meets regularly throughout the year, to help to share information via their own networks and social media, or to volunteer to help at the annual Voting Day, which can be a very big and busy community event. Just get in touch for a chat!
Contact Secretary@leithlinkscc.org.uk for a chat about it, in the first place.
What’s it got to do with Leith Links Community Council?
A representative of Leith Links Community Council was involved in the earliest PB events starting in 2010 and our Community Council has taken a lead in development ever since (working alongside colleagues from the other Leith CCs, particularly Leith Harbour and Newhaven). Leith Links successfully obtained supplementary funding from Scottish Government three times, to support PB in Leith, and continues to host and administer the £eith Chooses website and social media, on behalf of the Steering Group. Many volunteers from LLCC take part in the annual live Voting Day event. £eith Chooses could not function without the dedicated and active support given by the Community Councils.