By Alex Dowdalls

ALMOST £100,000 is to be ploughed into two road projects in Barrhead and Neilston after the pilot East Ren Decides voting process.

The East Renfrewshire Council initiative allowed residents to choose which residential roads and pavements should be upgraded as part of an additional £600,000 investment available.

A total of 1,290 votes were cast during the 11-week process, and now work will be carried out on eight projects across East Renfrewshire – the top two schemes in each of the four local areas.

Residents in Barrhead, Neilston and Uplawmoor voted for carriageway work to be carried out in Kirktonfield Road, Neilston, which will cost £50,000, with their second choice being a footway in Commercial Road, Barrhead at a cost of £45,000.

The five unsuccessful projects were Commore Avenue, Crebar Drive, Netherton Drive and Cruachan Way, all Barrhead, and Harelaw Avenue, Neilston, which had been earmarked for a variety of carriageway and pavement work.

Third place, and hoping they yet may be successful, was a bid from Commore Avenue in Barrhead which was looking for £40,000 for road repairs.

The other successful schemes were: Berryhill Drive and Belmont Drive, Giffnock (road and pavement); Corrour Road and Hazelwood Avenue, both Newton Mearns (road); Bonnyton Drive Cul-de-sac, Eaglesham (road and pavement); and Craighlaw Avenue, Waterfoot (pavement).

Council chiefs have hailed the success of the engagement process, but when the votes were tallied up, just under 200 Barrhead votes were polled.

It represents 0.9 per cent of the Barrhead constituents, with 1.1 per cent in Neilston and 3.1 per cent of the electorate in Uplawmoor.

Councillor Colm Merrick, the council’s convener for community services and community safety, said: “It is positive that we are able to progress with the top two ranked schemes in each area which reflects the balance of views of our engagement with residents through this process.

“We are committed to giving communities a stronger voice on the issues which matter most to them – and by the response to this initiative it is clear that many residents welcomed this opportunity.

“This is one of the highest response rates the council has ever had to any consultation so I’m pleased that residents have taken the chance to have their say.”

This method of community decision making is known as Participatory Budgeting (PB) and is a key part of the council’s commitment to the Community Empowerment Act.

Cllr Alan Lafferty, convener of environment, told the Barrhead News: “This East Ren Decides initiative was held as a pilot project to help shape and inform any future PB schemes which may be considered by the council.

“We have learnt some valuable lessons from this process and this evaluation will be important as we continue to look at opportunities for involving our communities in the decision-making process.”

“I am pleased that we took the opportunity to give local people the chance to decide how the increased roads budget for this year should be spent and look forward to seeing work on the projects starting.”

A total of 33 potential road schemes were identified by the council, all in a similar need of repair, within a £35,000 to £100,000 cost range, across four locality regions of East Renfrewshire.

The exercise was launched in late June under the banner East Ren Decides and closed on September 8.

The council’s online platform Citizen Space was used to host the voting process, with residents limited to voting in their chosen locality.

Councillors also decided this week that, following the tender process, if the total cost of all schemes falls below the £600,000 allocated then additional funds will be allocated to the Barrhead and Neilston projects which missed out.

Each of the localities that the projects were divided into include a wide cross-section of community groups.

Work on the successful projects will get under way early next year.