Making the case
There are many good reasons why we should be involved directly in budget decisions by councils and other local budget holders. Whilst we can recognise that is our right to be involved in how to spend our taxes we have to build a persuasive case to convince the officials and politicians who control the budget.
Local examples of participatory budgeting are a good way to show that it can be done in your area. See the map here.
Many councillors and officers are looking for new ideas to give legitimacy to their organisation. We can use this campaign to help them use participatory budgeting processes to do that. We’ve produced a simple 1-page info sheet that you can adapt for use by your campaign. And also advice on good buttons to push for Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Plaid Cymru and Green is in primers.
Crucial to success is how open to new ideas local politicians and public sector managers are. If they are stuck in an old fashioned “we know best” mindset even the most compelling case will struggle. Tactically it’s good to pick your targets from the various local budgets out there: local councils, individual council departments, housing associations, police authorities, the 41 Police & Crime Commissioners who will be directly elected in 2012, town and parish councils, fire authorities, police forces, schools and NHS.
Building a respected coalition of allies will help your campaign to be taken seriously. Here are some ideas.
There are various concerns that crop up all the time. Here are some good responses.“In most councils, participation is still considered an ‘optional extra’. We start from the assumption that there is no need to really involve the community beyond a bit of consultation. Communities or officers who disagree with that assumption have to prove the value of participation in general before they can get into the way participation will happen.”
Former local government officer quote from here.