From Parklets to Pizza-Box Bins, Council Wants Small Ideas to Improve Life in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is asking people for ideas and suggestions that they believe would “enhance their local area and larger public realm of the county”, said a council spokesperson.

Its new dlrBETA Projects is inspired by a similar initiative set up by Dublin City Council a few years ago.

Six people are on the dlrBeta Projects team, drawn from different wings of the council, the spokesperson said.

It will be down to them to review and assess the merits and feasibility of ideas, said the spokesperson, to see which should be trialled.

People can send ideas through the dlrBeta website that they feel “would make a small but discernible difference in their community”, they said.

Already, the council has put in “parklets” – small benches or planters on parking spaces – in Sallynoggin village through dlrBeta, says the council spokesperson.

It is “providing a small natural space for the local resident to rest and relax outdoors”, they said.

They’re also planning to trial public bins designed to accept pizza boxes, they said. “The first two pizza box bins are intended to be trialled in Blackrock and Dún Laoghaire.”

Séafra Ó Faoláin, a Green Party councillor who says he brought the idea of a dlrBeta Projects to the county council, says he wanted people to have access to a formal process of pitching ideas, without going through councillors.

Some people don’t really understand the often opaque process of moving from policy idea to implementation in their local area, he says.

“Obviously everyone gets on to their local councillor when they want things to change, and sometimes we can’t change things, or we don’t know how to,” he said.

It should be as easy as possible to get involved, he says. People should be able to give direction on participatory budgets, and wording on grant applications should be more accessible.

The Beta process is about trialing new policies in locations and seeing how they work. “You then can either improve them, or say this won’t work, or say this is good and let’s scale it up,” says Ó Faoláin.

For example, businesses would be surveyed after a trial to see if it increased football, and people would be asked their thoughts, he said.

Using behavioural economics, different wording on grant letters could be tested in different community groups to identify better engagement, he said.

“The way you word something prompts certain behaviours. If you word things better, it can prompt people to take action,” he says, and this would help stop businesses getting bogged down when accessing support.

Said the council spokesperson: “We are asking citizens to bring forward similar ideas that look at the installation of small infrastructure in the County that can benefit everyone.”

Anyone interested can learn more about the programme, and submit ideas, through the dlrBeta Projects website.

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Claudia Dalby: Claudia Dalby is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. She's especially interested in stories about the southside, transport, and kids in the city. Get in touch at [email protected]

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