Grassroots group is set to ‘fight system’ for a Better Swindon

Chris Barry, the chairman of BetterSwindon, a group which aims to make Swindon council more accountable

Chris Barry, the chairman of BetterSwindon, a group which aims to make Swindon council more accountable

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @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.”

To learn more people can email abetterswindon@outlook.com

Comments (7)

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7:10am Thu 23 Jan 14

house on the hill says...

Interesting idea, but as with all these groups, it depends how open minded and wider thinking they are. Too often they have their own narrow agenda's or just like the sound of their own voices and telling others what should be done. Running a town the size of Swindon is a very complex issue and a bunch of people having a drink together is not really going to add much. But do agree that all councillors should be made accountable for their actions and council staff should be on performance related pay and accountable to those who pay their wages. we have no option but to pay for them, so they must take the responsibility for providing what we pay for.
Interesting idea, but as with all these groups, it depends how open minded and wider thinking they are. Too often they have their own narrow agenda's or just like the sound of their own voices and telling others what should be done. Running a town the size of Swindon is a very complex issue and a bunch of people having a drink together is not really going to add much. But do agree that all councillors should be made accountable for their actions and council staff should be on performance related pay and accountable to those who pay their wages. we have no option but to pay for them, so they must take the responsibility for providing what we pay for. house on the hill
  • Score: 0

8:49am Thu 23 Jan 14

ChannelX says...

This highlights the problem with such organisations:

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.

Some people appear to feel that democracy on exists when they get their own way every time. It doesn't work like that.

Everyone (of voting age) is able to vote against a councillor who they feel has let them down in their area, or to continue to support a councillor they feel has done a good job.

The only rational end result of 'holding them accountable' would be to have them removed from their position for whatever 'wrongdoing' they're supposed to have done. If we end up with a system where councillors can simply be removed whenever a vocal minority don't happen to like something then the true intent of democracy will have been replaced with, essentially, mob rule.

But it's actually worse than that, because it won't actually be a mob, it'll be a small group of people who've managed to mobilise themselves enough to try and ensure everything goes their way.

You see this kind of thing happening in parish councils and on local forums. It's usually left-wingers who realise that because most people are fairly apathetic to such things, all they need do is organise themselves to form a small but determined group and they can infiltrate and disrupt things just enough to push through their insidious socialist agenda.

Still, I have a feeling that 'Better' Swindon will go the way of 'Forward' Swindon in the not too distant future...
This highlights the problem with such organisations: [quote] 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. [/quote] Some people appear to feel that democracy on exists when they get their own way every time. It doesn't work like that. Everyone (of voting age) is able to vote against a councillor who they feel has let them down in their area, or to continue to support a councillor they feel has done a good job. The only rational end result of 'holding them accountable' would be to have them removed from their position for whatever 'wrongdoing' they're supposed to have done. If we end up with a system where councillors can simply be removed whenever a vocal minority don't happen to like something then the true intent of democracy will have been replaced with, essentially, mob rule. But it's actually worse than that, because it won't actually be a mob, it'll be a small group of people who've managed to mobilise themselves enough to try and ensure everything goes their way. You see this kind of thing happening in parish councils and on local forums. It's usually left-wingers who realise that because most people are fairly apathetic to such things, all they need do is organise themselves to form a small but determined group and they can infiltrate and disrupt things just enough to push through their insidious socialist agenda. Still, I have a feeling that 'Better' Swindon will go the way of 'Forward' Swindon in the not too distant future... ChannelX
  • Score: 3

12:45pm Thu 23 Jan 14

1 2 Could B says...

“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.”


I doubt many people would disagree with that
[quote]“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.”[/quote] I doubt many people would disagree with that 1 2 Could B
  • Score: -2

2:40pm Thu 23 Jan 14

benzss says...

"A new grass roots group, which aims to hold the council and local political system to account, held its first public meeting last night."

I thought this was meant to be the job of the press.

Oh wait...
"A new grass roots group, which aims to hold the council and local political system to account, held its first public meeting last night." I thought this was meant to be the job of the press. Oh wait... benzss
  • Score: 2

9:52pm Thu 23 Jan 14

anotherimigrant says...

They get my vote. I,d vote for anyone as long as they are not supported by ,liebour con-servatives, bleedinheart lie-breaks. I,d vote anyone or anything just to put these living,theiving, thugs were they belong.

Hope they field members in every election.

I also thought this was the job of the press to hold the council account?
As for the thugs and bully's You see this kind of thing happening in parish councils and on local forums all the time.

They will be ridiculed and slandered on these forums because they are different, but only because they are different .

But we really do need to be different because how it,s run in the council now is like a union meeting, the thickies and the wannabes will shout down anyone who doesn't do what there gang has decided they want.
They get my vote. I,d vote for anyone as long as they are not supported by ,liebour con-servatives, bleedinheart lie-breaks. I,d vote anyone or anything just to put these living,theiving, thugs were they belong. Hope they field members in every election. I also thought this was the job of the press to hold the council account? As for the thugs and bully's You see this kind of thing happening in parish councils and on local forums all the time. They will be ridiculed and slandered on these forums because they are different, but only because they are different . But we really do need to be different because how it,s run in the council now is like a union meeting, the thickies and the wannabes will shout down anyone who doesn't do what there gang has decided they want. anotherimigrant
  • Score: 1

1:52pm Fri 24 Jan 14

ChannelX says...

Interesting to note that a this 'non-politically affiliated' meeting there was a speech by a notable local Labour councillor and it was also attended by a Swindon leftie who's rather hilariously going to run as the Labour candidate for MP in Devizes.

Good luck Mr 'Train Fares Are Too High' Watts, you'll be needing it!
Interesting to note that a this 'non-politically affiliated' meeting there was a speech by a notable local Labour councillor and it was also attended by a Swindon leftie who's rather hilariously going to run as the Labour candidate for MP in Devizes. Good luck Mr 'Train Fares Are Too High' Watts, you'll be needing it! ChannelX
  • Score: 1

2:08pm Fri 24 Jan 14

trolley dolley says...

It is just another political STUNT.
It is just another political STUNT. trolley dolley
  • Score: 3

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