Candidates to be quizzed by voters
5:30am Friday 2nd May 2014 in By Craig Jones, Reporter
COUNCIL election candidates will experience a role reversal while canvassing for votes as they’ll be probed by pressure group Better Swindon.
The volunteer group formed last year is campaigning to improve the reputation of politics in the town and has six key principles, regarding transparency and openness, which it wants to see Swindon Council adopt.
Those in the movement plan to ask prospective candidates when they knock on their doors in preparation for the May 22 elections whether they would back the aims.
Chris Barry, the Better Swindon chairman, said: “We want people to keep the paper with our principles near their doors and when the candidates come knocking on their doors, asking for support, challenge them to see whether they back the principles and if not, why not.
“We spent a lot of time discussing these aims for Swindon and feel they are practical and pragmatic for the future.”
Better Swindon did consider putting forward candidates for the elections but the group wants to work with the council as a separate body rather than changing it from within.
So far, the group has already helped to develop a new approach for the council’s public consultations and members are in talks about ways the authority’s standards process and communications can be improved.
Chris said: “If a councillor tells us they would sign up to our principles and then goes against them we would look to hold them to account.
“We could do this by emailing them or standing up during public debate at council meetings and explaining how they’ve gone against their promise.”
Better Swindon, which has received backing from Lord Joel Joffe, who lives in Liddington, held a meeting on Wednesday, at the Croft Sports Centre, attended by about 40 people, where they raised awareness of their intentions.
Chris said: “The feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We had people really engaging with it and saying it was enjoyable and informative.
“We were worried people might think we are being too aggressive or militant, as that isn’t what we are about, but I think people understood what we stand for.
“We are looking to welcome more people to Better Swindon and get involved to work with the council and bring change to Swindon.
“We need any help we can get as we can’t do this just on our own.
“If people want to make a change then I would ask them to get involved.”
- For more information about the group visit the website which can be found at www.facebook.com/betterswindon or email email@example.com.
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