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The end of the beginning…

The final meeting of the Governance Commission took place on 10th November – many thanks to all of you came. There was full opportunity for members of the public to contribute to the discussion on the form the new system should take, and the formulation of the Report which will go to Council on 27th November. Chris Gay as Chair actively invited us to present the points which we had submitted in our CDCD position paper. We think that three key points were accepted:

  • that Full Council should in principle be empowered to review the decisions of committees in certain circumstance;
  • that the principles underpinning the new system, by which its working will be assessed, should include the principles of transparency, accountability and empowerment which we proposed;
  • and that the proposed new Governance Working Party should in fact be a sub-committee, not a working party, and should meet in public.

We shall have to wait to see the detailed final wording but the Commission did, as we understand it, endorse these points. The new system won’t be perfect, but there is a good chance that what we will see is a workable Committee system embodying the principles we’ve argued for.

More generally, the way in which the meetings of the Commission have been conducted has been a good step forward. To have had members of the local community actively involved in the design of their Council’s system of governance must be a good thing, and something to be celebrated. We hope that it is a sign of things to come.

This is as good a time as any to reflect on what we have achieved. Following our inaugural meeting in February and the overwhelming vote in favour of a move to a committee-based system, we started our petition. We walked dozens of miles delivering petitions, and spent hundreds of hours of collecting signatures.

By July, we had thousands of signatures – enough to trigger a U-turn in Council policy, leading to the formation of the Governance Commission. Our campaign group may be few in number, but because we spoke for many we were able to play a key role in the deliberations of the Commission. Passionate, prepared, persistent and polite – we made a difference, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

If you signed the petition, or collected signatures, or delivered petitions, or made a donation, or wrote to the papers, or came to the meetings, you helped make this happen. Thank you.

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