25 April 2024

Two Towns: Big Ideas participatory budgeting fund

Six community projects ranging from cultural celebrations to the creation of an inclusive space for a host of social and creative activities are sharing more than £25,000 in funding.

The ‘Two Towns: Big Ideas’ grant fund was identified in both the Banff and Macduff Development Partnership Action Plans as a priority project to help the towns develop in the aftermath of the pandemic and cost of living crisis. 

Following face-to-face discussions with residents and businesses, together with an online public engagement process, Aberdeenshire Council’s Economic Development service agreed to explore participatory budgeting as a method of tackling this issue.

Participatory budgeting allows residents and the community to express their views and ideas on the town centre through local democracy, and be at the very heart of deciding how public money is spent locally.

Community groups, school groups, businesses, charitable organisations and social enterprises were all encouraged to submit applications for grant ranging from £500 up to £5,000, with the submissions being carefully scrutinised against agreed criteria by a funding panel comprising representatives of the private sector, community council, council officers and chair of the Banff and Buchan Area Committee Cllr Doreen Mair.

While the number of applications didn’t quite trigger the voting element of the participatory budgeting process, the following successful groups are eager to kickstart their various projects:

Banff Castle Community Association - £4500

To embark on a journey into the cultural legacy of Banffshire at a distinguished festival, where the performances of six esteemed pipe bands and the artistry of Highland dancing converge in an elegant display. Visitors can partake in culinary excellence, participate in cultural activities, and immerse themselves in a family atmosphere.

Banff Academy - £5000

A project supporting young people to develop their ideas for a youth-led Youth Hub into a viable business proposal and physical hub with support from community partners. Pupils at Banff Academy’s Learning/Support Hub have deem this as vital to addressing the lack of opportunities/spaces for teenagers locally, and in decreasing antisocial behaviour.

Banff Academy - £5000

Empowering young local citizens to make positive changes and create a lasting sense of pride in our towns, through community connected projects showcasing attractive local offerings for residents and visitors.

Cattleskate Academy - £3780

This non-profit initiative brings coaching sessions and community events to Banff's free-to-use skatepark. Cattleskate is not just teaching skateboarding – it is cultivating a thriving community. This project enhances well-being, fostering inclusivity and actively contributing to the upkeep and improvement of Banff skatepark.

Banff Preservation & Heritage Society - £1772

General Jose de San Martin, Liberator of Argentina, Chile and Peru became a Freeman of Banff in 1824.Celebrate a summer of activities and exhibitions, focusing on August 17-19. The society will develop and create an exhibition which will be run in the Museum of Banff from mid-June 2024 to end of September. This exhibition will be free to members of the public and the museum will work with our local schools to create resources around this. The exhibition will be part of an exciting programme of events organised by Duff House, Banff Preservation and Heritage Society and Museum of Banff and Banff Castle.

The Forge - £5000

The Forge Banff CIC believes that the future of the high Street lies in activity and creativity. We want to bring something special to Banff, through the renovation of the outside space at the Forge to create an accessible and inclusive space wherein a variety of social and creative activities can be enjoyed.

Cllr Doreen Mair, chair of the council’s Banff and Buchan Area Committee, added: “I was delighted to be part of the scoring panel with local community and business representatives as I got the opportunity to see firsthand what matters to people in Banff and Macduff. There was a tremendous responsibility to follow the rigorous funding criteria and it’s great to see such a wide range of projects being supported financially which will certainly cross the borders of the two towns. To see so many of these groups bringing a longevity to their projects with such a limited amount of funding is truly inspiring.”

Cllr Alan Turner, chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “Through the process of participatory budgeting, our aim has been to address declining footfall and reignite activity in the town centres of Banff and Macduff. By providing local residents, groups and businesses with that increased opportunity to suggest new and exciting projects is crucial for the future development of our communities and I would very much like to see this sort of process extended to other areas of Aberdeenshire in the fullness of time.”