A NEW website aimed at getting residents to donate their time and skills to help the community has been launched by Barnet Council.

The Pledgebank has been created to encourage residents to do more for their communities as part of the Big Society initiative put forward by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Barnet is the first council in the country to launch its own version, as a way for residents to get support for ideas and get council resources to back them.

Councillor Robert Rams, the man in charge of the One Barnet programme which the new site is a part of, said he hoped it would be “inundated” with ideas.

He told the Times Series: “There are two ways it can be used. If someone wants to start their own youth club they can go online and ask the council to provide sports equipment if five other people pledge to help.

“We can also help with things like criminal records checks, which can be costly, but the main drive is coming from volunteers giving their time to help out.

“The other way is by getting people to pledge to help with community activity, such as clearing snow from a road or graffiti from a street. We can then provide the grit or paint to do this.”

Critics have accused the Conservatives of trying to get residents to provide services for free that councils should be providing.

Last month Lib Dem Councillor Monroe Palmer, who is set to join the Coalition Government in the House of Lords, criticised the Big Society project, questioning how many people would give up their time for free.

However, Cllr Rams said: ““This is about communities coming together and providing services. We're in a brave new world because of the way the finances have been left by the previous Government.

“We're giving people who want to get more involved a chance to work with their communities.

“It's driven by users. The council will keep an eye on what's going on and provide the resources needed.”

He said the cash for the schemes would come from “within existing resources” in the relevant department's budget, and each pledge would be assessed on a case-by-case basis by council officers.

Cllr Rams added: “I hope we're in a position in the next few months where we have problems deciding which of the requests to support.”

The idea is part of a wider drive by the council to get more interaction with residents online in a bid to save money and make it easier for people to contact them.

Other online schemes being rolled out in the next few months by the council include notifications when nearby planning applications are submitted and updates on rubbish collection schedules.

To see the new website visit pledgebank.barnet.gov.uk.