5,600 names needed for petition
CAMPAIGNERS are trying to collect more than 5,000 signatures to force a referendum on the way council decisions are made. Members of the Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury District — made up of groups from Canterbury Herne Bay, Whitstable and the villages – have launched a petition calling for a public vote on the issue, following a packed public meeting last month. Under the Localism Act, councils have to hold a referendum if five per cent of the electorate sign a petition calling for one — in the Canterbury district, that means about 5,600 signatures. It would mean people could support either the present executive system or a committee structure, which supporters say would be more democratic. Campaigner Phil Rose, from Herne Bay, said:
“Over the last few years, more and more people around the district have realised that our local democracy isn’t working as well as it should.”
“The problem isn’t about any one party, or councillor. The problem is that our councillors can’t represent us effectively because of the current ‘rules of the game’, which means our voices aren’t heard and our wishes get ignored. At election time, we choose the players. With a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum we can move the goal-posts. No democracy is perfect, but this is our chance to make ours better. Make a difference – sign the petition!”
Since 2011, when the Localism Act came into force, nine councils have scrapped the executive for a committee system and at least seven others are considering it. If enough signatures are collected, the referendum vote would take place on May 7 next year, the same day as local elections. Council officials are also holding their own review and could decide to organise a referendum without the need for a petition.
• Download copies of the petition from www.cdcd.co.uk or visit Revivals at 42 St Peter’s Street, Canterbury; Sweet Magic at 115a Mortimer Street, Herne Bay: or the bookshop at 20a Oxford Street, Whitstable.
Herne Bay Times, March 13th 2014