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More Money Come From Scottish Government After Successful Participation Event

16th January 2016

The new Chair of the Caithness Committee, Councillor Gillian Coghill has thanked everyone who took part in the recent participatory budget event held in Wick and says she would like to see other areas of the Highlands use this dynamic way to involve members of the public in decision-making.

Last year Caithness councillors set aside £30,000 from their ward discretionary to create a participatory budgeting event. A steering group was set up with community councils, voluntary groups, community associations and High Life Highland Youth Workers joining council staff to host the Your Caithness Your Cash event.

At the well-attended event which took place on Saturday 21 November 2015 in Wick, members of the public got the chance to vote on which projects they thought should receive funding after listening to presentations from the 20 groups who had applied.

A total of 13 projects benefitting local communities received a share of the £30,000 and at (Wednesday 13 January 2016) meeting of the Caithness Committee, members had a chance to discuss feedback from the public on the pilot event and to look at ways this approach could be used in future funding decisions.

During the meeting they agreed to hold similar events at the end of May and next November.

Councillor Gillian Coghill said: I thought the event was terrific and I would like to thank everyone who came along to give presentations, and those who voted, for their excellent work and great enthusiasm. The atmosphere on the day was very vibrant and it was really heartening to see folk get involved and having their say on where the thought the money should go.

Feedback has been very positive and I am delighted that the committee has agreed to hold one again at the end on May and again next November. The experience has been so positive that I hope other areas of the Highlands consider holding similar events.

Scottish Government has also rallied round the successful event offering to add £20,000 of match funding to more events. the councillors agreed that two more events offering £60,000 in total for 2016 with each date putting up £30,000 to local Caithness groups. The next event is likely to beheld in Thurso with other places in Landward area to be considered for later events.

Councillor Bill Fernie said - I have rarely seen such enthusiasm and everyone learned a lot about all the groups that took part. It has encouraged us to support more events that allow for such great local input and participation

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