Travel SMART's community funding scheme ran from 2012 until March 2015 and aimed to give local people more travel choices to help them cut carbon, calories and cost. Local community groups and organisations working in the area could apply for money to develop projects that would help deliver our objectives, which were to:
- Promote sustainable travel and/or;
- Improve access to jobs and employment skills.
We took an approach known as participatory budgeting, which meant directly involved local people in making decisions on how money should be spent. Local residents and groups had opportunities to discuss spending priorities, make spending proposals and vote on them.
This approach strengthens democracy and localism, builds stronger communities and empowers people, improves services and gets things happening. Community voting events were held in each area so residents could have a say in how funds were spent. Local people know their area best and this process put them right at the heart of decision making.
This scheme was run in five areas of Surrey:
- Sheerwater and Maybury (Woking)
- Westborough (Guildford)
- Stoke and Stoughton (Guildford)
- Redhill West (Reigate and Banstead)
- Merstham (Reigate and Banstead)
There were two different levels of funding available. Groups could apply for a small community grant of up to £3,000, or to the large fund for projects costing up to £15,000 (£10,000 in Redhill and Merstham). Examples of projects Travel SMART funded can be found here.
Applications for small grants were decided by a community panel made of representatives from the local area, including residents and councillors. The grants proved hugely popular. As an example, we received 24 applications for small grant funding between January- July 2014 just in Sheerwater and Maybury. The panel decided that 12 of those applications would win a share a total of £36,000.
The applications for large projects were decided by local residents on public voting days. If there were a large number of applications, they were shortlisted by the local community panel. Each shortlisted group were asked to make a short presentation on the voting days to explain their project.
Between 2012 and 2015 over £1.5m was allocated to 222 community projects and over 1,000 local residents attended voting days.