Grassroots group is set to ‘fight system’ for a Better Swindon
5:30am Thursday 23rd January 2014 in By Mike Benke, @Michael_Benke
A new grass roots group, which aims to hold the council and local political system to account, held its first public meeting last night.
BetterSwindon aims to give people a voice to challenge the actions of councillors and council officers to make the system fairer for all.
More than 50 people attended the meeting at Churchfields Academy and signed up to the group, saying they agreed with the six principles of the organisation, which is not affiliated to any political party.
The principles covered values that organisers feel are important, such as ensuring councillors are held accountable for their actions through to more open discussions on key issues.
The group has been set up by people who have all had run-ins with the council on issues ranging from planning to the standards process.
Chairman Chris Barry, 68, of Eastleaze, was pleased with the turnout and hopes the group will be able to spread its message to get more people involved.
He said: “It was a pleasing turnout, especially on such a cold night.
“There are a lot of people who are frustrated with the system and feel they are not being listened too.
“A lot of the time people feel councillors are not listening to them and just appear once every four years to get a vote from them.
“We are not saying the system is entirely broken, and some of the councillors are good, but it is clear something needs to change.”
In order to get a feel for the issues affecting people, those attending had the chance to explain what they thought were the key issues.
A huge variety of topics were discussed including the influence of the party system on local politics and whether council officers need to be held responsible.
Members of BetterSwindon have spent several months attending council meetings and committees to find out how everything works and what needs improving.
Talks have been held with council representatives on making the consultation process more open and improving the standards process.
Chris said: “Many councillors and council are simply not held accountable for their actions.
“The important thing we want to get across is that we are not party political.”
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