Ballot now under way on Otley projects to win slice of £5,000

Councillors Austin Kelly and John Eveleigh urging residents to vote for their favourite  community project, under the Voice Your Choice scheme

Councillors Austin Kelly and John Eveleigh urging residents to vote for their favourite community project, under the Voice Your Choice scheme

First published in News Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

Voting has started in a week-long ballot to decide which of nine shortlisted Otley community projects will receive Town Council funding.

More than 40 schemes, ranging from commissioning a statue of Lizzie Armitstead to creating an Otley Tyre Playground, were suggested under the Voice Your Choice initiative.

Of those, a shortlist has been drawn up that includes providing better or improved facilities for groups like Otley Disability Action Group and Otley Town Football Club, hosting a First World War centenary exhibition next year, and starting a young people’s music social club.

Councillor Austin Kelly (Lab, Ashfield) is encouraging as many residents as possible to vote for the schemes they would like to see backed by a pot of £5,000 council money.

He said: “We were overwhelmed by the response from the public, with around 40 very wide-ranging ideas suggested – and they came from all kinds of age ranges, from children to octogenarians.

“We couldn’t take all of them forward to the shortlist but some of the others have made it into the council’s agenda for the up and coming year, so it’s been a very worthwhile venture for us.

“We certainly plan to run this again next year, with an increased budget of £10,000, and the Voice Your Choice system could be extended to cover other areas of council decision-making to make it a more democratic, and transparent, process.”

Voting started yesterday and will continue until noon next Wednesday, January 30.

Funding for the projects will be allocated on a points system, with the highest-scoring scheme funded first, then the second, and so on until the £5,000 is depleted.

Ballot boxes have been installed around town including at the Town Council and Otley Action for Older People’s offices, Sainsbury’s and Asda supermarkets, and the schools (where they are for pupils and parents only). A ballot box will also be installed at The Buttercross from 10am to 12.30pm on Friday, January 25.

A web link giving more details about each of the shortlisted projects, and ballot box locations, can be found at otleytowncouncil.gov.uk.

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