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Surrey County Council’s Travel SMART programme – participatory budgeting in action

John Furrey|

Participatory budgeting –  which involves local people when making decisions about how public money is spent on specific projects –  has proved popular with voters and is here to stay. Our certainty about that comes at least in part from the work we’ve done with our Travel SMART programme, which aims to help Surrey residents cut calories, carbon and costs.

A partnership between Surrey County Council and other local organisations, it is funded by the Department of Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Through Travel SMART, we’re investing in a range of measures across Woking, Guildford, Redhill and Reigate, including a new park and ride, improvements to bus lanes, over 34 miles of safe, signed walking and cycling routes and training and funding for local businesses. £1.7 million is earmarked to help communities that face barriers to sustainable travel as a result of deprivation, and our participatory budgeting project is playing a key role in ensuring that money is spent wisely.

In autumn 2012 we held community events in the Westborough district of Guildford and the Sheerwater and Maybury districts of Woking. Twelve groups were successful in bidding for a share of £220,000 for projects that make travel easier for residents or which bring services into the area, avoiding the need to travel. All residents of each ward aged 10 and over were eligible to vote and funding was allocated to the projects with the highest voting scores. Take a look at the short film below, where you can see the difference Travel SMART is making in communities across Surrey.


Residents have told us that they want to have more of a say in decisions that affect their communities, and these events are designed to do exactly that.  Local people decide which groups should receive funding for projects that could make a real difference in their areas and it’s those local people who will benefit. Building on the events’ success, more events are taking place in early 2013 in Merstham, Stoke, Stoughton and Redhill West, where a total of £190,000 will be won by community groups and projects. A second round of events in Westborough, Sheerwater and Maybury will follow later in the year. Local people care what happens in their communities and want to help make decisions that affect them. Travel SMART gives our residents the opportunity to make sure that their voice is heard.

Open Government Partnership