Examples of PB mainstreaming

How the system works in Antwerp: Hanne Bastiaensen (Democratic Society)

  • Bruce Ryan: Now Hanne Bastiaenson talking about PB in Antwerp: 10% of local budget, more than €1 million. It’s a deliberative process, with special focus on hard-to-reach audiences.
  • Helen MackenzieHanne Bastiaenson telling us about the deliberative process for participatory budgeting in Antwerp
  • Bruce RyanHanne Bastiaenson says start of process is choice of topics – what is important to the city? Need to reach consensus on 5 topics. Then top 12 taken into forum for distribution of money. They use a game which looks similar to the Edinburgh budget challenge.
  • Bruce Ryan: then choosing projects by citizen voting. results = 50 to 60 projects per year, ‘In every step of the process very different participants have talked and listened to each other in order to reach a consensus’, says Hanne Bastiaenson.
  • Jamie Mallan: Really interesting to hear about the deliberative approach to participatory budgeting in Antwerp. It has an over representation of minority groups and young people participating!

Legislating for system change in New York [City]: Jez Hall (PB Partners)

    • Bruce Ryan: Now Jez Hall of PB Partners talking about New York PB. It’s about legislating for system change, to cater for 8 million people.
    • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall says it began in 2012, led by politicians using their discretionary money – 4 districts with $1m each. Influenced and supported by community organisers to spread it wide. Inspired by community-led models. Not grants but focussed on democratic renewal.<
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall says start with residents brainstorming ideas, then development of proposals by delegates, then vote. Important that it’s long-term, year-long process. There is city-wide committee that produces a rulebook, hence co-design with citizens. By 2018 allocated $210m.
  • Tressa BurkeIn New York politicians have funding and have used PB processes in decision making. Grassroots developed through deliberative long term dialogue between communities and with agencies, then vote says Jez Hall.
  • Bruce Ryan: On 6 Nov, vote to reform city charter on Ballot Prop #2: https://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/vgwelcome/state-general-2018/ballot-proposals/proposal-2/?languageType=English …
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall asking what is mainstreaming?, then says PB has 2 cycles: decision-making, then implementation and evaluation. There are some risks, e.g. lack of political will, internal resistance to change, lack of time or resources, manipulation -> cynicism
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall says we need a convincing story for politicians, people etc. So today is about what’s in it for people in the room?

From small grants to mainstreaming in Fife: Coryn Barclay (Fife Council)

  • Bruce Ryan: Now Coryn Barclay of Fife Council: from small grants to mainstreaming in Fife
  • Bruce RyanCoryn Barclay says Fife has been doing PB since 2010: mainly small grants and small-scale capital projects, involving young people in service design. ‘Oor bit’ Cowdenbeath used D21 and YourPriorities.
  • Bruce RyanCoryn Barclay says PB in Fife mainly area-based but variable take-up across 7 areas of Fife’s decentralised structure. There has been evolution, and unfortunately need to keep reinventing and changes of brand. Coryn Barclay now talks about what has been learned.
  • Helen Mackenzie: There is a place for small grants in a mix of participatory budgeting in a local authority.
  • Bruce RyanCoryn Barclay says online is not the magic bullet. It has taken 8 years to get to the current scale. There is still a place for small grants, but getting to think outside this is a challenge, says CB. Hence need for (r)evolution
  • Helen MackenzieCoryn Barclay says if we see this as an extension of consultation it won’t be sustainable.
  • Bruce RyanCoryn Barclay says we need to move beyond consultative PB. Here is the Fife journey to mainstream, which brought in (outside) practitioners. 1st test of mainstream PB will be £22m subsidised passenger transport provision. Wow, methinks, me likes!
  • Bruce RyanCoryn Barclay says that this involved opening up conversation about buses. That got some positive results (and a few ‘oh gosh’ moments). However, it’s part of the positive Zeitgeist (my choice of word). Coryn Barclay says watch this space! 


  • Bruce Ryan: Question – how does Antwerp avoid Not in my back yard/[I want this] in my back yard, noting that Fife retains the local approach, if I’ve understood correctly. Jew Hall replies question is now ‘how’ rather than ‘why’.
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall notes pervious mention of resource/cost implications. Question from Young Scot person re deliberation, noting that PB in Scotland is about LA small grants. So who is delivering in Antwerp and NYC?
  • Tressa Burke: Isla asks question: benefits of city wide / approach versus benefits of local place based approaches? Hanne from Antwerp describes 22 neighbourhoods being brought together around THEMES, not areas. It’s about what was important to all.
  • Bruce RyanHanne Bastiaenson says that NIMBY is tackled in Antwerp by needing consensus across city. Proposers of projects can choose to deliver projects themselves or for LA to deliver. Jez Hall says that in New York, PB is led by politicians, but it’s about democratic renewal and engagement. All schools got a PB budget.
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall notes that there are no elected politicians at this event, and that PB should be involved with targeted procurement/commissioning. Most NYC PB projects are done by council capital spending (mainstream money, not grants).
  • Bruce Ryan: There is mention of PB being volunteer-led, leading to community involvement. It’s resource-intensive but rewarding. In Fife, elected members are somewhat onboard, need to shift away from [only] small grants – there are some senior political champions. Fife is a pioneer LA 🙂
  • Bruce Ryan: so Fife needed permission to fail. Oliver Escobar notes that politicians have never been in the room during his past 10 years of doing this sort of work. Interesting gap, he says. Many elected members now hearing about PB for first time, so we need to get into them!
  • Bruce Ryan: Question – how to enable citizens to make **informed** decisions? Answer from Antwerp is the difference between information needed during the process and what’s needed in advance, e.g. people in poverty didn’t need childcare, but information on what it’s about, what’s in it for them.
  • Bruce Ryan: so Antwerp organised classes on debating. Also possibility of over-informing, too much text, Hence the scorecard using pictures, short presentations, working on different levels. Lesson: don’t start a PB process with an hour-long presentation!
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall says information exchange on how much things really cost, and translation to allow engagement are very important, as is getting politicians in partnership!
  • Bruce Ryan: Jez Hall says we need to show politicians how PB can make their jobs better! Coryn Barclay says, as far as I can hear, dialog and transparency/openness are important, to understand politicians’ very difficult budget choices.

#PBmainstream is ‘mainstreaming’ in Edinburgh. I like!