What are you doing this weekend?

Voting in £eith Chooses, hopefully!

Voting is open for just two more days, and closes at midnight on Sunday 31st January. Don’t miss the boat! And please remind all your friends and family to vote (if they live, work, study or volunteer in Leith).
Vote at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/voteleithchooses
What is £eith Chooses? If you haven’t heard of it before, or haven’t voted before, here’s a quick run down of the background and aims of the whole thing –

Before 2010, a few charities (who knew how the system worked) would apply annually to the Council Community Grants fund. Which projects got the grants was decided behind closed doors by a small ‘panel’ composed of an elected Councillor, Council official(s), and – latterly anyway – invited representative(s) from local Leith Community Councils.

in 2010, Local Councillor Maggie Chapman, ably supported in practical implementation by Council Officer Loraine Duckworth, led an initiative towards a more democratic model, based on Participatory Budgeting (which began in Brazil and was only just starting to be known about). Leith was an early pioneer! Participatory budgeting (PB) means that local people get to choose how public money is spent in their own area. More or less everybody agrees that this is a fairer model, theoretically, but the challenge is to ensure that ‘the people’ know about the projects applying and to ensure that a significant number of local people actually vote. Participatory Budgeting doesn’t just happen by itself -making it happen takes a fair amount of time and work. It is currently run by a Steering Group which is a partnership between the council and the community (community council reps and members of the community). Over the years, both the number of local projects applying and the number of local people voting has increased year on year. (Sadly, the amount of money available from the Council has not increased as much as we would like, but Leith Links Community Council has been instrumental in bringing an extra £100.000 of funds from Scottish Government, since 2016, and  Trams to Newhaven donated an extra £5,000 this year.)

The other – and arguably the MOST important – really brilliant feature of £eith Chooses is that it helps local people to learn about the charities and community groups that are operating in the area, and the great projects that they are trying to implement – hence why everyone likes a ‘live’ Voting Day event (in non pandemic years, that is….) as well as online voting. Nearly 1,500 people came along last year to the Community Centre, there was a huge community buzz, and most people stayed for far longer than ‘just’ for voting, chatting and finding out about activities in their community. So its not just about money, it’s mainly about community engagement.

Be part of it!

You can read much more about £eith Chooses at www.leithchooses.net


Similar Posts: