Big Choice, Big Deal II

And so the Colchester Borough Council Big Choice is back for a second year.

Hurrah!

We think?

Local groups and organisations are being invited by CBC to pitch for a share of £100,000 in funding.

“What’s not to like?”

…asks the Cabinet member who seems to use his legal knowledge to compose his increasingly partisan and non-comital tweets.

On face value then the Big Choice is a bloody good idea. It’s brings local democracy to financial decision making.

But it does seem a bit odd that a Cabinet that bangs on about central government cuts has found £100,000 to distribute back to the Little People.

You may remember how the Big Choice last year came out of a surplus because of the farce of street lighting in the borough.

CBC very kindly offered to fund the street lighting; Essex County Council said ta, but no ta.

Which left £200,000 burning in the back pocket of CBC with the financial end year fast approaching.

Tell you what – let’s GIVE IT AWAY.

Just ahead of All Out elections as well.

Job’s a good ‘un.

And so twelve months later it seems slightly strange that some projects around the borough can’t be funded or supported, yet £100,000 is sloshing around once again as an act of civic deocracy.

‘Nationwide’ groups this year are being invited to pitch.

A half decent difference is that the vaue of the bids can range from £5,000 to £20,000. Last year the minimum was £25,000 – too high for some local organisations, where £5,000 would perhaps be a lifeline for them.

The successful winners from last year are not allowed to pitch in for a second dib.

The true ‘democracy’ is that it will actually be a select group of high ranking Cabinet members and unelected Officers who will be deciding who goes through to the next stage of the beauty contest.

At least the ‘distraction’ of local elections won’t get in the way of the process this year.

If CBC does have £100,000 left to dish out then we can’t but help think that Colchester Soup would be a better route for distribution.

This is true democracy – local folk set out their pitch, and then members of the community decide. The screening of more favourable projects by politicians is cut out at source.

Take the self-selection away from the Cabinet members and their *possible* personal interests, and you get a much fairer system.

But then CBC and the Cabinet members have never been fond of the Little People having more of a say in local democracy.

Especially when it comes to dosh.

Big Choice, eh.