|Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury|
Another problem with the leader/ cabinet system is patronage. Cabinet members depend on the good will of the Leader to keep their posts and their lucrative responsibility allowances, Council officers are reluctant to disagree with political leaders and cabinet members for fear of their jobs. This often means that Leaders and Cabinet members become surrounded with yes men and women who, because of self-interest, seldom dare to question or disagree with their patrons. Unhealthy relationships such as these, often lead to a regime of fear and secrecy which can have a disastrous impact upon the quality of decision making, often leading to bad practice, misconduct and corruption. Thanet has had its fair share of this in recent years.
But it doesn’t need to be like to this. The Localism Act 2011 gives residents the tools to fight back against councils like Thanet which are ruled by secretive cabals of powerful politicians and replace it with something better - the committee system.
|Show of Hands in Favour of Committee System|
So how do we make this change? Simple the people of Thanet must raise a petition signed by approximately 5,000 registered electors (5% of total registered electors). If this is achieved, then the Council is forced to hold a referendum on changing the decision making process from the leader cabinet model to a committee system.
In Canterbury, local people who have become disillusioned with the City Council’s leader/ cabinet model have recently set up a Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury. I attended a public meeting called by the group on Wednesday which was attended by almost 200 people, which for a wet stormy evening was a pretty good showing. The campaign group is now now busily collecting signatures for their petition for a referendum.
We need to follow Canterbury's lead. A public meeting called by Thanet Watch, which will be discussing our dysfunctional council, is being held at the Red Hall Broadstairs on 26th February. This might be a good place to begin talking about replacing Thanet's leader/ cabinet system with a committee system. A representative from the Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury will be speaking at this meeting. I think it would be well worth attending this meeting to find out more.
If anyone who interested in contacting me about campaigning for a committee system in Thanet please e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org.
If democracy is good enough for Canterbury its good enough for Thanet.
Campaign for Democracy in Canterbury Leaflet