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Council gives active citizens £2m to spend and says ‘we can’t do everything’

Council gives active citizens £2m to spend and says ‘we can’t do everything’

🕔15.Sep 2016

Communities across Birmingham are to bid for a share of a £2 million city council fund for “innovative projects” in an attempt to shift decision making to neighbourhood level.

The Local Innovation Fund will allocate £48,000 to each of the council’s 40 wards to be spent on a variety of local projects.

Community groups, individuals and councillors are being challenged to come up with ways of doing things differently and “getting away from the idea that the council can do everything”.

The scheme has been devised by the four assistant council leaders: Cllr Marj Bridle, Cllr Ansar Ali Khan, Cllr Tony Kennedy and Cllr Narinder Kooner.

Projects proposed for funding must link to the city’s overriding priorities, with an emphasis on doing things differently, strengthening communities and supporting active citizenship, the council said.

Priority will be given to projects that focus on partnership and collaboration.

Cllr Ali Khan said:

This is about listening to our communities and working with them to get a better deal for neighbourhoods and wards right across Birmingham. We are going to have to think how we can all do better despite the fact that there’s less money to spend.

He set out some ways in which the money could be spent:

The people of one community might want to set up a community enterprise such as a low cost painting and decorating, odd jobs service while another might develop a project that focuses on community groups learning from each other through visits and working sessions.

The possibilities are endless and it will be interesting to see how our neighbourhoods spend this money.

Council leader John Clancy, who appointed the four assistant leaders earlier in the year, said:

I’ve made it clear that I want this city council to start doing things with the city not to the city and the four assistant leaders were appointed to help shift power from the centre of the city and the city council out to local communities.

That’s exactly what the Local Innovation Fund aims to do and this is a real opportunity for ward councillors to work closely with their communities to make a difference right across the city.

Spending proposals will be agreed by ward committees and passed on to the Cabinet Committee for Local Leadership for final approval.

The assistant leaders came under scrutiny at this month’s full council meeting when written questions from opposition councillors to each of the four assistants were deflected to Cllr Bridle for an answer.

She explained that the four were “working together collaboratively” and she was answering on their behalf.

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