Quest to retain democracy
On June 17, the Executive Committee of the Bexhill Town Forum circulated an email informing residents of a June 24, 2015, deadline for submitting comments and suggestions concerning the Forum’s proposed constitution.
To the best of my knowledge, this deadline was never published in the Bexhill Observer. I’m therefore informing your readers, albeit after the deadline date, so that you are able to submit late amendments, comments or suggestions. I’m pleased that in the now modified version, the Committee appear to have listened to three past Forum chairs – Margaret Jones, Paul Plim and myself – in stating that “Committee members are elected by the public”.
Unfortunately, the text then states that, when a vacancy arises, the replacement is co-opted by the committee until the next election, which could be up to two years hence! This seems to paint a picture of a self-perpetuating hierarchy.
The text also states that the committee has the right to remove a member for reasons of behaviour. Sadly, it is offering itself as the final arbiter, with no possibility of an appeal by that Member to the Forum as a whole.
I also notice that minutes are now only to be made available in electronic format. That means that those members of the Forum (Bexhill residents) without email addresses are disadvantaged.
The accounts are approved by Rother Council. This removes transparent accountability to what has until now been the Forum’s governing body – the residents of Bexhill who attend its meetings.
Further proposed amendments will be decided by the Executive Committee.
This means all residual powers could be removed from the residents of Bexhill and be vested in the committee. This is probably the single most alarming clause.
I shall be tabling a series of amendments to try to restore democratic accountability by the deadline date, but would encourage others to do so after that date.
The constitution can be viewed on http://bexhilltownforum.co.uk/ or you could email me on [email protected] or phone me on 07712 178 546 to obtain a paper copy.
Immediate past acting Chair
Bexhill Town Forum