Falkirk Community Choice Funding Scheme Concludes After Remarkable Success

The highly successful Falkirk Community Choice funding scheme, which allocated nearly £3 million of council funds to community-led projects throughout the Falkirk district, is set to conclude later this year.

End of Large-Scale Projects:
The Community Choices funding initiative, designed to support substantial capital projects, will come to a close after the upcoming round of applications. However, Falkirk Council emphasizes that community involvement in budget allocation decisions will persist.

Continuation of Small Grant Scheme:
While the large-scale project funding comes to an end, the small grant scheme, which offers up to £5000 for community projects, will continue to operate. Additionally, funds will be earmarked for community choices among Falkirk Council tenants.

Council’s Acknowledgment of Success:
During a recent meeting, the members of Falkirk Council’s executive committee recognized the substantial success achieved by the Community Choices initiative. The scheme aligns with the requirements of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, mandating the allocation of a percentage of funds for projects allowing residents to influence local spending decisions.

Impactful Grant Distribution:
Since 2021, the initiative has disbursed over £2.8 million, spanning more than 120 grants. These include 56 capital place-based grants and 69 small grants, with an impressive 55,000 votes cast in various ballots to determine the allocation of funds to local projects.

Exemplary Projects and Community Participation:
Projects that stood out for their positive impact on the community included improvements to accessibility at Falkirk Golf Club’s clubhouse and course, as well as the provision of a free hospital transfer service for cancer patients by Bo’ness Cars 4U. The projects were conceived and supported by local residents, who also actively contributed to their realization.

Looking Ahead:
As the initiative’s Phase 4, with a budget of £900,000, is poised to launch, the council anticipates a surge in applications, given the achievements of the previous rounds. After the conclusion of the final round, a comprehensive evaluation of the entire scheme will be conducted by local members.

Shifting Focus for Future Participation:
Following the last round of voting, Falkirk Council will transition from the grant-based Community Choices approach to a mainstream strategy. This strategy will empower communities and individuals to play a central role in decision-making processes concerning a portion of operational budgets and services.

Council’s Perspective:
Council leader Cecil Meiklejohn hailed the remarkable success of the Community Choices program in fostering collaboration with communities. She expressed pride in the flourishing communities and substantial participation in project voting, setting the stage for the next phase—mainstream participatory budgeting.

Continued Support:
While capital allocations may resurface in the future, they will be considered alongside other priorities such as schools and leisure facilities. Council leader Meiklejohn underlined the ongoing support for community initiatives through the continuation of small grants.

Positive Community Energy:
Councilor Gary Bouse noted the exceptional enthusiasm and passion demonstrated by communities throughout the Community Choices journey, surpassing expectations and leaving an indelible mark on the initiative’s legacy.

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