On Saturday 5th May the first ever participatory budgeting event in Sutton took place at St Bede’s Centre, North Cheam. The Council had £50,000 from its Public Realm Budget to allocate to local community projects from the local area – Worcester Park, Stonecot and Nonsuch Wards. Applications had been received from 21 projects, each of which could apply for a maximum of £5,000.

Each project was allowed 4 minutes to make a presentation about why their project should be funded. The 5th Worcester Park Guides put in a bid for a grant towards a new minibus as their old one does not meet the new low emission zone regulations. This project was number 4 out of the 21 projects. Chloe Wall, a Young Leader from the unit gave a lively presentation and was supported by girls from the unit who brought on their prop – cardboard cut out of a side of a minibus – the first side illustrated the current old minibus and the second side illustrated the new environmentally friendly minibus with smiling girls. The audience was very impressed and clapped enthusiastically. After all the presentations, the voting began. All local residents were given a special voting handset. With £50,000 to allocate it was clear that residents would be able to vote for more than one project. The Guides eagerly awaited to find out which project got the most votes and were delighted when their project was voted the most popular and was the first project ever to be given a grant under the scheme.

‘This grant is going to make a real difference to reaching our fundraising target’ said Christine Donovan, Guide Leader. ‘We had already raised £6,920 from cake sales, fairs, bag packing and raffles. We have a couple more events planned so are now likely to achieve our target before the summer holidays in time for a new minibus before our summer camp trip to the Isle of Wight. We are grateful to all those from the local community who attended the event and voted for us!’ Based on information supplied by Steve Wicks.