The officers held an annual meeting today (31 March 2021) to review progress and plan the future. Overall, the chair said, we have made good progress and the idea of both Democracy Cafés and Citizens’ Assemblies were both gaining ground. Dickie had set up a second Democracy Café in Bemerton Heath and this was slowly gathering members. There were now some 300 assemblies which have taken place around the world. Unfortunately, the CA idea had not been enthusiastically received either by John Glen MP nor the leader of Wiltshire Council Cllr Philip Whitehead. They both felt that they already represent everyone so it is not necessary.
The bank account was in funds with little activity at present. As TSB had closed in Salisbury there was the question of where to bank in future.
The Committee was Mark Potts, Dickie Bellringer, Mike Hodgson, Jill Cheatle, Lesley Curbishley and Peter Curbishley. Officers were elected as follows:
- Mark Potts, Chair,
- Andrew Hemmings, Treasurer
- Peter Curbishley, Secretary and website
- Dickie Bellringer, Membership secretary
Elections are to be held in May and there have been attempts to interest the various parties to adopt policies to encourage Citizens’ Assemblies. Good progress has been made:
- Labour’s manifesto for Wiltshire has included the policy of ‘trialling the use of a Citizen’s Assembly’.
- The Labour group on the city council has, in its Statement of Intent, included ‘… supports the use of Citizens’ Assemblies’
- The LibDems have a policy of encouraging and supporting CAs and has an immediate priority of ‘initiating planning for Citizens’ Assemblies’. Further details can be found from this link.
- A Zoom meeting was held on PR hosted by the LibDems and the local representative of Make Votes Matter will make contact with DB.
- OECD had published a report Catching the Deliberative Wave which discusses the 300 different models and experiences around the world
- The People in the Park event has been postponed until September 18th. We have been invited to attend and to speak. We will plan a leaflet or factsheet nearer the time.
- The Hampshire Equality Trust are considering a Democracy Café which will not be exactly like normal one but will focus on equality issues.
- A Democracy Café was held with RSA which split into two groups. There will be another meeting in Devon on 11 May.
- On 18 May there is to be a Zoom meeting with the polymath, Prof Raymond Tallis. A link will be provided in due course. Early registration is advised.
- The talks to schools are on hold as they will be concentrating on restarting the education programme and catching up on lost time.
- Dickie spoke of the reading group he runs under the aegis of the Library.
- The Talkshop event, cancelled at the outbreak of the pandemic, is still on hold. It was agreed that we would not consider restarting the project until we had resumed a face-to-face Democracy Café at the Playhouse. When they re-open we did not know at present.
Readers would be welcome to join our next Democracy Café which takes place on Saturday 10 April at 10:00 am. Leave a message here to let us know and we will send you the link.