Partnership working is at the heart of successful Participatory Budgeting and this is nowhere more true in Dulverton, that has been pathfinding an ‘Our Place‘ approach to PB for many years. By combining forces with agencies like Devon and Somerset Fire Service, Dulverton was recently awarded Our Place status and is looking to develop it forward strategy. This status enables local people to have a greater involvement in projects to improve the town. Cllr Leslie Silverlock, community budgeting expert and PB advocate said:
“This is really good news and would not have been possible without the hard work and involvement of many individuals and organisations. I’d like to thank Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service for the spark which its generous support provided early on in the development of this programme.”
Volunteers and local agencies will use the Localism Act to make decisions more quickly and efficiently at a local level on issues such as street cleaning and car parking. Several local agencies, including the Fire and Rescue Service, have been sharing budgets in the town to provide facilities for community and youth initiatives under a Participatory Budgeting scheme, known locally as Sensible Spending.
The Our Place status will now take the sharing of resources a step further to use local people’s knowledge and experience when making decisions about services that are provided in the town. Area Manager Phil Martin, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said:
“This is a really innovative project which will give people who live in Dulverton more of a say about what happens in their town. “They know which roads need repairing, streets that need cleaning, where lighting is needed and the paths that should be salted in the winter. Our Place status means that their views impact directly on what happens on the ground.”
Examples of services which could be devolved or managed in partnership are:
• Management of traffic flows, car parking, road closures and diversions
• Management of recycling, cleaning, gardens and water course clearance
• Providing assistance to schools, community education and youth provision.
The project will be run by Dulverton Town Council and partners include Somerset County Council, West Somerset Council, NHS, Avon and Somerset Police Authority, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, Exmoor National Park Authority, Environment Agency and Department for Work and Pensions. The partnership will agree a development plan with action starting in May 2015.