COUNCIL chiefs have been urged to rethink a scheme which gives communities control over how groups are awarded funds.

Independent councillor Paul Aitken, who represents Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor, has suggested the community-led initiative ‘Participatory Budgeting’, recently used in Barrhead, is ‘unfair’.

More than 30 community groups and projects from across Barrhead recently received awards from a £100,000 fund as part of the new approach, driven by the Better Barrhead steering group.

A total of 49 groups bidding for funds presented their ideas to more than100 of their peers on Saturday, March 17. Using a ballot process, people decided which groups would receive funding.

The scheme was presented in a positive light as part of a presentation on the end-of-year performance report at last week’s meeting of the full council, but Cllr Aitken called for a rethink.

He said: “I’m glad to see a number of groups benefitting, but I’m slightly concerned about how funds are allotted. I don’t think it’s very fair.

“You have cases where all groups are equally worthy of getting funding, but some groups don’t get anything because they’re not as organised and they don’t shout loud enough.”

Cllr Angela Convery took issue with Cllr Aitken.

She said: “I was at the event and that simply wasn’t the case. All the groups were given the same amount of time to speak and all received the same guidance.”

Participatory budgeting has been tested in a number of ways in East Renfrewshire over the last year, including giving residents control over deciding which roads to upgrade.

Cllr Aitkin added: “It’s about who are the most organised to get enough people out to tick their boxes.”

Council leader Cllr Tony Buchanan suggested any group that did not receive funding would likely ‘be more organised next time’.