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Is democracy dead?


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Bearing in mind the welcome opposition councillors' planned coup, regarding the cabinet system next week do we get what we deserve? How are these councillors going to carry us through to the election polls next May? As witnessed on these pages not many councillors engage with us on the many local issues affecting the city and which concern us. Directness and honesty seem to be secondary considerations, often only telling us how bad things are after they have gone t"ts up. Consultations are undertaken and ignored if the results do not fit the planned agenda. How much has and is this costing us?


Nearer to us in the West Midlands last week,  the election for a police commissioner attracted only 1 in 10 registered voters. The vote following the death last month of Bob Jones resulted in a turnout of 10.4%, the lowest recorded since the posts were created two years ago, prompting demands for the process to be reformed.

The cost of the election to the taxpayer has been estimated £3.7m, just under £20 for each vote cast.
Is that the price for democracry today? Quite cheap for those wishing to remain in power.
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I suspect the mighty Megilleland knows the answer to his own question. Despite the window dressing that is a bloody vote now and then, our democratic system is busted.

When an elected body, tasked to run an organization like our Council cannot stop or even slow down the happenings of what the suits are getting up to within Plough Lane. I think you can safely conclude our democratic system is broken and it'll be some time before any Councillor steps forward and asks why it is the pointless tiers of management are still standing and yet the culling of the low paid front line staff continues unabated without anyone intervening and saying, 'I don't think this is right'.

Why can't anyone say these things? What's so difficult about it? Why can't a person with a democratic mandate say,'I don't think you should be doing this. I think it's wrong'.

I mean, it ain't bloody difficult is it? The suits do it because they can. They do it because nobody objects and they do it because their empire, their authority and their own highly paid position depends on propping up a failed model of business management by keeping together all the pointless tiers of management.

If it wasn't so bloody serious, I'd bloody laugh at the stupidity of it all. At what point does somebody in authority say, 'we've to many chiefs and not enough Indians'. Bloody madness and it ain't going away anytime soon.

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Nearer to us in the West Midlands last week,  the election for a police commissioner attracted only 1 in 10 registered voters. The vote following the death last month of Bob Jones resulted in a turnout of 10.4%, the lowest recorded since the posts were created two years ago, prompting demands for the process to be reformed.



The electorate are not engaging in this PCC process for a variety of reasons I suppose ... But this new one elected last week got 50% of a 10% turnout. So only 5% actively voted for him.


My reason for not voting in our PCC election was that I don't believe in the system! I won't vote at the next one either unless it's radically changed.


I would guess Bill Longmore got in because the initial elections were dressed up as trying to de-politicise the system. He was independent and looked reasonably plausible and probably got voted in on that basis.

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I may know the answer, but I don't know how it works.


Came across this article today in The Guardian:


The interests of those who dominate British society are disparate; indeed, they often conflict with one another. The establishment includes politicians who make laws; media barons who set the terms of debate; businesses and financiers who run the economy; police forces that enforce a law that is rigged in favour of the powerful. The establishment is where these interests and worlds intersect, either consciously or unconsciously. It is unified by a common mentality, which holds that those at the top deserve their power and their ever-growing fortunes, and which might be summed up by the advertising slogan "Because I'm worth it". 


This is the mentality that has driven politicians to pilfer expenses, businesses to avoid tax, and City bankers to demand ever greater bonuses while plunging the world into economic disaster. All of these things are facilitated – even encouraged – by laws that are geared to cracking down on the smallest of misdemeanours committed by those at the bottom of the pecking order – for example, benefit fraud. "One rule for us, one rule for everybody else" might be another way to sum up establishment thinking.



But now I do.

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  • 2 months later...

Yes Megilleland it is, we are doomed!


Watched the commons debate last night regarding the twists and turns the Conservatives and Labour were making regarding the European Arrest Warrant. Well worth a watch to see how political parties try to slip legisaltion through without proper debate and attention. Many MPs from both sides were perplexed as to what they were actually debating and voting for on the night. I thought the speaker did well to keep it in order and there was a fair bit of humour as well. if the MPs do not understand what the government is trying to push through on the nod then it is good to see some well informed MPs pull them up. 


Bill Wiggin who was speaking against the EAW gave an example of one of his constituents who had fallen fallen of the EAW, but got pulled up for going into too much detail of the case. Good to see him showing concern for a UK citizen whereas Theresa said that only 5% of UK citizens get caught up in the EAW - so we should go along with it. Not very good if you are one of the 5%.


The debate starts at 16:24:10, Bill Wiggins piece is at 19:44:20. The debate finished at 20:35:00.

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And there lies the problem Megilleland 'proper debate and attention'. Decision makers need to make a concerted effort to establish all of the facts before they go casting votes, once those decisions are made and found to be flawed it's too late to say we weren't informed! Equally decision makers need to be mindful when denying they knew the facts before the decisions were made, because in my limited experience it will likely come back and bite you on the a.r.s.e!

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  • 4 weeks later...
Friday 5 December 2014: Hereford Times News by Bill Tanner

HEREFORDSHIRE councillors are to get another go at ending the authority’s cabinet system.
Support for a groundbreaking notice of motion put by two political group leaders to full council next week could be the beginning of that end.
And this time the debate will be had. A previous attempt to put such a motion before the last full council was put off.
Submitted by Lib-Dem group leader Cllr Terry James and seconded by Independent leader Cllr Bob Matthews, the full wording of the motion is:
“We ask that this Council take note of the public disillusionment with the current arrangements of Herefordshire Council. Their arrangements failing to include the majority of elected Councillors in the decision making process and the highly secretive manner in which the Council operates.
We instruct the officers to produce a report on the alternative governance arrangement to include a streamlined committee system. We also ask for the setting up of an all party working group to oversee this alternative  arrangement.â€
A debate on the future for cabinet had been proposed by Cllr James for full council in September.
But then there were already three notices of motion on the agenda, all the council’s constitution allows.
Behind the scenes, councillors came to believe that it was too soon to debate the future of cabinet without workable alternatives that could be put to voters.
Cllr James, who headed the council’s first cabinet in 1999, told the Hereford Times of his  â€œfrustration† that a motion of such importance was not seen as a priority by the council.
He made his case for a motion on a claim that successive cabinets had come to forget their purpose to appear as doing little more than delegating decisions to officers.
A combined opposition vote at Hereford Shirehall next Friday would defeat any Tory attempt to defend cabinet. The Tory group currently controls the council – through cabinet – as a minority.
Dissatisfaction with the cabinet system has simmered on the council’s “backbenches† for some years.
Many members believe cabinet stifles their voice and diminishes the role of ward councillor.
Equally long-running are concerns over “closed doors† when key or sensitive decisions are discussed at cabinet.
Abolishing cabinet would require a complete re-write of the council’s constitution.
Alternatives to cabinet include a wider ranging committee system and more voting power for the full council.
Legislation allows for the council to re-adopt a committee system of governance with relative ease.
A committee system is still a permitted form of council governance under the Localism Act 2011.
The Act allows for a change in governance arrangements through a full council resolution.
A notice must also be published informing the public that the council intends to change its governance arrangements having passed a resolution to support the change.
Copies of the documents detailing the changes must also be available for inspection.
Once a council has passed a resolution to change its governance arrangements, the Act says those arrangements cannot change again for another five years, unless the second resolution is approved following a referendum.
The concept of a cabinet was one the first executive issues to face Herefordshire Council from its start in 1998.
Then, a government white paper outlined the abolition of traditional committee and sub-committee systems, seen as diffusing responsibility and leaving voters unclear as where decision making powers lay.
The then group leaders were united on the idea of a cabinet that met only behind closed doors – as the white paper allowed.
Arguments in favour of closed doors cited the “openness†offered by mixed party scrutiny committees responsible for specific service areas.
The Hereford Times led calls for cabinet to open its doors, but resistance to the body meeting in public continued to January 2000 ahead of a reform motion being put to full council .
That motion was headed off in the chamber, with the then council leader Cllr James conceding that cabinet proceedings would go public.
The size of cabinet, and the roles available within it, has fluctuated since with opposition leaders allowed a say at each meeting and local members when issues specific to constituencies were discussed.


A step in the right direction?


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Perhaps Megilleland.


We must return to the true values of democracy which ultimately has to win over because the alternatives make the future lives of our children unimaginable. We must believe that it can be done because only a free democratic institution gains a pass for life void of fear and insecurity.

Current extreme religious ideology appeals to those with little hope and why not when we currently sit within a supposed democratic system where all kinds of abuses take place. I'm not just talking the obvious which gains headlines and fills are heads with anger. No I'm talking about the other abuses of power and position which we have seen from bankers,politicians of all persuasions and anyone who feels that their position gives them cart blanche to do what they like! ...actually this also fills me with anger!!


The first steps are the hardest trodden by a few brave pioneers who are prepared to be ridiculed by the old guard however WE the silent need to stand by these souls. I personally would like to see this council absent of the old political groups and their seats filled with individuals whose only function is to represent the people of this county ... and they must listen to their voices. These voices however need to be heard because the future alternatives might be....... not to have a voice at all!

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Sorry to hear you've been unwell Chris, hope you are feeling better soon.


I understand that this meeting was filmed....anybody know by whom, and if it is available to view??


There is also a story on HT, linked to this story,(apologies once again, for being unable to provide a handy link!) where Cllr Johnson asserts that he has never had any post from the public, complaining about the cabinet system!


Perhaps someone should drop him an email with a link to Hereford Voice!

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Dippy - here is a link to the film and yes Leader Johnson asserts no one has ever complained to him about the way the cabinet is run ... Interesting that one man and a mobile phone can produce a half decent film, yet the council claim they are still in the feasibility stage of assessing if broadcasting can be done, no doubt paying many £000's in the process. Can you spot which councillors are playing candy crush on their council funded iPads?


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Excellent presentation. Nothing like seeing the council in the flesh. Can anyone supply any background information on Intermetmedia - what their interest and aims are. There is little to find out on the internet. They appear to be highlighting Herefordshire issues very well visually. Are these being pursued politically or just produced as a record? What audience are they hoping to attract? 


Cllr Johnson is right in that he has had little comment from the public on cabinet issues, but this does not allow him to turn a deaf ear because it suits those in power. If it wasn't for Hereford Voice, there are several issues which would have gone through on the nod of a small group of the council. It is also this same group that are feathering their own nests, through partnership schemes and the LEP.

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Thanks for the info on the names, Glenda - much appreciated!


Two Wheels.....brilliant! Thanks for providing this link for our perusal.


Flam.....is this John Llewellyn Perkins???


If so, and I think it is, he's a great bloke. Bobby and I met him and Amanda Martin last year at The Tree Huggers Ball. He was very involved with the effort to save the Edgar Street Limes.


I do believe he has been known to post upon these pages occasionally!!

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Good Grief!


Grab your coats, all you mendacious oddities!!


I have now perused the video, and..........(Pauses for dramatic effect)


................Cllr Johnson says he cannot find anybody who is angry about the way this council is run!


He has tried really hard to find the angry folks....by twice walking around his village, and on one occasion, asking a few folks in town!


Now he wants them "lined up" so that he can see them!


(On second thoughts.....I'm not falling for that old chestnut!


He wants us lined up for a very different reason methinks - possibly blindfolded, and backed up against a wall!!)

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  • 4 months later...

Great to see democracy and freedom of speech alive and well in Ledbury.


The police were called to a town council meeting, as attempts were made to stop Rich Hadley give his resignation speech.


Lots to be interested in here..... developers, pecuniary advantage, not declaring an interest, and lots it would seem, of you cover my back, I'll cover yours.


I for one, am very interested to hear what Rich Hadley has to say. I hope he gets the opportunity .


It's a shame he is resigning.


(Hopefully, Liz Harvey will storm it in Ledbury, and retain her place, now this is an amazing individual.....I wish her all the very best!)

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