In mid-June, PB Partners helped to co-ordinate a visit to the South East of England by 7 councillors and 5 local government managers from Denmark, in conjunction with Morten Ronnenberg from a Danish consultancy form, Strategihuset. The aim of the visit was to showcase some interesting examples of co-production, citizen engagement and participatory budgeting.
Davy Jones, from PB Partners, gave an introductory talk to the visitors on their arrival on Sunday 16 July. The next morning the group visited Adur council, where they are about to embark on their fifth year of participatory budgeting, using their “Adur’s Pot of Gold” brand. There was a lively exchange of experiences and views with the local Mayor, leader of the Council, the Chief Executive and Sarah Garbutt, the local lead officer on PB. In the afternoon, the group moved on to meet councillors, officers and young people who had been involved in the last two years of participatory budgeting by young people in two of the deprived areas of Brighton – Moulsecoomb and Whitehawk/East Brighton. The Danish visitors were particularly keen to be able to talk with the young people themselves about their experiences and how it changed how they felt about the value of participation in their local area.
The next day the group visited Surrey County Council and heard presentations from their Travel Smart team on how they have begun a three-year programme of using PB to allocate large sums from the transport budgets on community schemes for safer and more sustainable transport. In the afternoon, the group moved on to Tower Hamlets council and heard from Shazia Hussain on the PB work that the council did a few years ago, and the more recent plans for PB from the elected mayor. Later that afternoon they visited a HomeStart project in East London.
On the final day, the Danish group went to London and visited the Holy Cross Centre project in Kings Cross to observe their co-production approach and finished up with a discussion with the think tank group DemSoc about the issues raised throughout their visit on co-production, PB and citizen engagement. As many as four of the Danish councils represented on the trip felt that it was very likely that they would now embark on using PB in their own area.