Monmouthshire County Council marked European Local Democracy Week with an informal public discussion in the council chamber of County Hall, Usk. It featured councillors outlining how they became involved in politics, their passion for the democratic process and their desire to make a difference. A question and answer session followed.
The evening’s event which took place on Monday 17th October raised a number of interesting questions fielded by five councillors representing a cross-section of the council’s political groups – Council Leader Peter Fox, Frances Taylor (Independent), Phil Hobson (Liberal), Dimitri Batrouni (Labour) and Sara Jones (Conservative).
Subjects included the effect of party politics on local democracy, whether councillors attend sufficient local events, the level of scrutiny, the ability of councillors to influence significant decisions and does the council’s structure mitigate against change. All councillors gave comprehensive answers.
The informal gathering followed a meeting of the council’s Democratic Services Committee which looked at community governance, remuneration, diversity in democracy and the forthcoming county council elections in May. Present was Frank Cuthbert, the Welsh Government’s Head of Democracy, Diversity and Remuneration who spoke about the recently announced plans for Welsh local government.
Councillor Taylor who chairs the council’s Democratic Services Committee said: “I was pleased to join fellow councillors in celebrating local democracy and receiving thoughtful questions from members of the audience. This is just one of a number of events we intend holding in the approach to next year’s local elections. We will do our utmost to encourage democratic engagement whether it involves registering to vote, using your vote, standing for election, ensuring the transparency of the decision-making process or just taking an interest in the process and questioning how the system operates.”
- European Local Democracy Week is an annual event coordinated by the Council of Europe to promote its universal values of democracy, and human rights, while encouraging citizen participation at a local level.