July 5, 2007


Voters to get direct say on local spending: Cash for schemes such as parks, litter and Asbos to be decided by ballot (Patrick Wintour, July 5, 2007, The Guardian)

Voters will be given powers to decide how ten of millions of pounds should be spent in their neighbourhood under radical plans being unveiled today.

In a potentially dramatic extension of direct democracy, councils will have to hold ballots before deciding where money should be targeted. It would mean that, for the first time, people could direct cash to areas that concern them most, such as parks, curbing antisocial behaviour, targeting drug trouble spots or cleaning up litter.

The idea comes from Latin America where it is being rapidly adopted. It began in 1989 in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, but has swept through the region and some of the more radically led cities. Thanks in part to the success of the scheme, the UN has nominated Porto Alegre as the Brazilian city with the "best quality of life".

When Hazel Blears, the new communities secretary, outlines the scheme she will say that she wants every neighbourhood to have control of some of the council's cash within five years.

She told the Guardian that communities will be asked to take control of council budgets through local debates, neighbourhood votes and public town meetings.

By radical they mean American.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 5, 2007 2:55 PM

Over the years I remember being told that we should model ourselves after France, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Germany, Japan, Canada -- have I left anyone out? Yet amusing as all these suggestions were, even in my wildest dreams, it wouldn't have occurred to me that someone would seriously suggest that we look to Brazil for a model.

We have a large colony from Brazil here in Geezerland. Why I wonder would they leave a county on the cutting edge of societal evolution* to come here, a place not even in the UN's top 10,000 on the quality of life scale.

*h/t Rush

Posted by: erp at July 5, 2007 4:06 PM

This scheme partake of taxation without representation. It is at odds with the republican form of government.

Posted by: Lou Gots at July 5, 2007 6:21 PM