By Colleen Reid
A funding initiative to give power to local people, ‘£eith Decides‘ is an X-Factor style pilot project which sees local groups and charities battle it out for a share of Leith’s Community Grant. £16,600 in total is up for grabs, with the people of Leith to decide where and how it is spent.
Run by Leith Neighbourhood Partnership, the scheme is the first of its type in Edinburgh and could be rolled out across the city if successful.
The principle of the project is simple, each applicant will give a short presentation to Leith residents, which will then be voted on with a top score of five. The top rated organisations will then receive up to £1000 as decided by Leith residents.
Councillor Jenny Dawe, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This is a worthwhile project focusing on the local groups in Leith and is a good example of empowering communities by devolving funding decisions to a local level.”
In reality, the project seems to be a mystery to both residents and applicants alike. After contacting several of the groups and organisations who are in the running to gain funding, many were unaware of the X Factor style vote off system and this could spell trouble for the scheme.
Leith resident Emma Milne was not even aware of £eith Decides. She said: “It’s a good idea but I live in Leith and I’ve never heard of it. If it was advertised better it could work.”
A total of 29 groups and organisations are in the running for a slice of Leith’s yearly Community Grant of £48,032. The initiative has attracted a wide range of groups including Families Together in Leith, Out of the Blue Arts and Education Trust and the Bethany Christian Trust.
Dan Reynolds from Bethany Christian Trust said: “A project like £eith Decides means that smaller and local groups can put forward their own case for support and that by involving as many ordinary people as possible, it’s a chance for the community to decide what is best for them.”
The voting event is open to everyone who lives or works in Leith and will take place on the 27th November in Leith Academy. However, with the voting turnout of the recent general elections being just 68.4% for Edinburgh North and Leith compared to 73.8% in Edinburgh South, are the people of Leith likely to come and vote? Incentives such as a flat screen TV and a signed Hibs shirt are being offered in a prize draw to entice residents to participate.
Leith boys Charlie and Craig Reid from Scottish band The Proclaimers are trying to promote the project. They said: “Our very best wishes to all involved in £eith decides, and we are sure the Leithers will be astute judges.”