York had a great policy to allow a little bit of democracy when it comes to deciding who receives the community grants. However this has all been changed under the banner of ‘cuts’.
The previous system worked well, any community group who wanted a grant would send in their application, then each year the council wards would send out to residents a form listing all the organisations who have applied and what for. The residents were then given a chance to have their own say on how their money was spent and these were discussed at the Ward Committee meetings. Many countries who do use a more democratic system of direct democracy to decide on Government and Council events use technology to provide these services and this works well and are inexpensive to run.
The funding for the old system was done on a per ward basis and each ward could then decide, a little bit of neighbourhood decision making. Now the budget is being cut for Neighbourhood Management from around £350,000 down to £141,000.
The logical method to reduce the funding would be to inform the ward councillors that during the next years budget they would have their funding cut, however it seems that the York Labour run Council have decided that the public really shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about their own community spending. So out of the £141,000 budget they will spend 10% of that on an outside privately run company to administer applications, so now we are down to a budget of £127,000 on community spending throughout the entire of York.
Many projects are no longer allowed to be funded using the funding; in 2012/13 this will be Youth Services in local wards, extra street lighting and extra salt bins.
I am a big supporter of an open democracy and also direct democracy, many politicians such as Cllr James Alexander clearly feel that the public should not be allowed to have a say on how their money is spent. All this on an election promise of ‘listening to the public’, so far I am not sure if the Labour council have listened to the public once.
Surely this reduces the roles a councillor will perform, so does this mean the allowance will be cut to accommodate the lower workload of the councillors.