At Monday’s meeting of South Dublin County Council, Mayor Vicki Casserly randomly selected the Firhouse Bohernabreena local electoral area to be the next setting for the Council’s landmark participatory budgeting initiative, €300k Have Your Say.
€300K Have Your Say is a local democratic process, which facilitates citizens in a local community to directly decide how to spend a portion of the public budget in their area.
It gives people the direct power to determine how to spend up to €300,000 to improve their community by asking them to suggest projects and then vote on which ones they would like to see funded through a public ballot.
In 2017, South Dublin County Council became the first local authority in the state to adopt participatory budgeting through its pilot programme in the Lucan Electoral Area.
This was followed up with the 2018 version in the Clondalkin Electoral Area.
€300k Have Your Say was also shortlisted at the Europe wide ‘Innovation in Politics’ award ceremony in Vienna, Austria in 2018.
To date, 390 project submissions have been entered through the process with 23 winning through public ballot to be funded through €300k Have You Say.
These include a wide range of ideas, from the planting of native apple trees to a WiFi activated heritage trail in Clondalkin village, the restoration of the historic King John’s Bridge in Lucan and a safety and inclusivity study of public spaces.
€300k Have Your Say has empowered citizens of both the Lucan Electoral Area and Clondalkin Electoral Area to make real decisions about their money.
It is a fully transparent process, with elected members sitting on the participatory budgeting steering group and interacting with the Council throughout each step of the process.
The initiative is managed through a Steering Committee and is chaired by the Mayor of South Dublin County.
This Steering Committee is comprised of both elected representatives from all political parties and electoral areas of the county along with senior Council staff.
Elected members can submit queries from the public on the process and the development of winning projects at local area committees, through queries to the Council and at monthly Council meetings.
€300k Have Your Say has allowed South Dublin communities to identify needs in their communities and propose solutions to address these.
By taking part in the process, members of the public are able to put themselves at the heart of council decision-making and the challenges and triumphs that go with bringing a public project to fruition.
Participatory budgeting itself has its origins in Brazil in 1989, where a series of institutional reforms saw some budgeting power given over to residents of the city of Porto Alegre.
Since that time, more than 1,500 cities across the world have adopted participatory budgeting, from Rio de Janeiro to Chicago, Glasgow and now South Dublin County.
The United Nations and World Bank have named the process a best practice in democracy.