HEART Meeting Votes To Set Up Political Party

Meeting was held in the Town Hall

A group of islanders have voted overwhelmingly to set up a new political party in Scilly.

That’s the bold outcome of the second meeting of HEART, which was set up in response to concerns over the way the Islands’ Council is operating.

Around 160 people attended the first meeting on May 31st, following which working parties came up with a long list of proposals to help what they perceive as a climate of fear and lack of transparency in the Islands’ Council.

Yesterday’s meeting in the Town Hall, chaired by Dr Adrian Davis, attracted around half that number of attendees.

Those attending were asked to say which of four key aims they wanted to move forward with. These included encouraging positive interactions with Councillors, supporting members of the community to speak out without fear and raising awareness of how decisions are made in the Council.

But it was the proposal to form a party to support members of the community to stand in next May’s elections that received the support of the attendees.

A working group has already looked into the procedures required to form a party, said Adrian, such as registering as a ‘minor party’ with the electoral commission. He also confirmed during the meeting that they would set up a committee to select candidates.

The proposal was carried forward by 71 votes for with 6 votes against.

However, there was a vocal minority in the meeting who pushed for a vote of no-confidence in the chief officers. Adrian had told attendees earlier in the meeting that officially, only Councillors could take such a vote.

But several attendees argued that a vote of no confidence by the community, in the form of a petition, would at least make them “stop and think” about their actions.

Lisa Magill from HEART said it wasn’t the place of the organisation to take such a vote. Other attendees were also concerned about who such a vote was targeted at, with one saying they didn’t want the Chief Planning Officer, Craig Dryden, included in that vote and another saying it should be aimed at the Chief Executive and his deputy.

Councillor Roy Duncan cautioned that the discussion was “verging on a public hanging,” He said he had “heard rumours and whispers” but there was no evidence of any alleged wrongdoing by Chief Officers.

Adrian said that one of the aims of the HEART party would be to gather such evidence in the form of written testimonials and Louise Graham said she had made information on support for whistleblowers available on the HEART website. She said if anyone wanted to talk about alleged bullying within the Council she could provide contact numbers.


17 Responses to HEART Meeting Votes To Set Up Political Party

  1. Steve Sims June 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I’m afraid I have to make a correction. Post meeting people were discussing the vote and saying that all 5 councillors present voted against. This of course was nonsense, there were only 4 councillors present and they did not all vote against the motion. That will teach me to listen to other people and then not check up the facts, and now am officially a laughing stock.

  2. Katie June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Yes – thank you Hecuba! That’s exactly what I was trying to say! And I too hope that we will see the vocal ‘online’ community represented in council meetings. Todd, perhaps you could run? It would give you a high profile outlet for your views and I’m sure that your outspoken contributions here and on other forums in the past will count some way towards a campaign – people know exactly where you stand on so many issues!

    • Kev Wright June 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      The ‘vocal online community’ have been present at meetings such as HEART and are trying their best to make their views heard publicly and not just confined to internet forums. Most have been trying to be constructive rather than simply picking up on negative points and are pushing for change instead of hiding behind anonymous internet names. Maybe you’d like to give us your full name so your views can be discussed publicly with others whose view is that, contrary to what TomD mentioned in another post, things HAVEN’T been done in the correct manner.

      • Hecuba June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm

        Gosh – there’s no need to be so defensive! Katie was being supportive from what I can see, as was I! People have become so used to in-fighting and negativity that they seem unable to distinguish between support for a cause and support for a principle anymore. Corr blimey… And I don’t see why anybody should be pressured into giving their full name until it is compulsory for EVERYONE to do so.

        • Kev Wright June 14, 2012 at 1:23 pm

          It was Katie’s stance on this ‘online’ community that irked me a little. It’s far more than just an online community. Public events are taking place and hopefully some of the people involved will be involved in council meetings in the future. Being anonymous is fine but it kind of defeats the argument that the ‘vocal online community’ should be making themselves more public. I for one am happy to give my opinions under my real name, if others aren’t then so be it.

          • Katie June 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

            Hi Kev, I used inverted commas for ‘online’ as I wanted to differentiate without belittling that community.

  3. Kev Wright June 14, 2012 at 8:31 am

    The H in HEART stands for Honesty, Katie. I’m certain that any HEART candidate will, by the very nature of the organisation, have to make it clear exactly what they are standing for. Remember what the acronym HEART stands for. Not fulfilling these criteria would be rather like shooting the organisation in the foot. I’m sure every candidate will be honest about their proposals. This group is set up to to make things clearer, not use underhand tactics and have its candidates not being Honest Ethical, Accountable, Respectful and Transparent. If things are left muddy and the public isn’t clear on exactly where each candidate stands it would defeat the object. Having come this far I’m positive HEART will not be allowing this to happen. After all, we, the public, should ALWAYS know where our elected members stand. The idea is to remove such secrecy and blurred lines.

  4. Hecuba June 13, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Kev, read Katie’s comments carefully. I think she’s suggesting (correct me if I’m wrong, Katie) that if HEART puts forward candidates with a very specific set of goals in mind then all literature and oral campaign material will need to be completely clear on those aims. If a voter casts a vote for an independent then that vote is cast at face value, if a vote is cast for a representative of a party then the voter needs to know the extent to which the elected member will be obliged to toe the party line on all issues. For example, if I vote for my MP (let’s say he’s a Lib Dem) because I agree with his personal policies on fishery protection but then discover that he’s been forced to vote otherwise by a party whip, I’m going to be unhappy. Likewise, I think it’s important that anyone choosing to run for council, be it independently or as a party member, needs to run with a wide variety of interests rather than on a limited number of issues. If the HEART candidate is honest with themselves and the voters about the extent to which they plan to allow party pressure to influence their voice then that’s great; but they must go into the bear pit with eyes wide open. I’ll be really interested to see who and how many choose to run under the HEART banner and hope that those who have been so confident, open and outspoken on these forums recently avail themselves of the opportunity.

  5. Todd Stevens June 13, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    HEART is only there to encourage more people to stand. If those people believe in Honesty; Ethics; Accountability; Respect; and Transpancy in our council- then is that not a good thing? Certainly dont seem have these things in some at present, so they cant possibly be any worse!!

  6. Kev Wright June 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    But it’s a democratic vote Katie. If people disagree with what the manifesto of HEART they can choose not to vote for them. I’m sure there will be plenty of independent candidates standing. There’s no obligation for anyone at all to vote for HEART. It’s simply another option. If the public at large wish the council to remain entirely independent then that’s the way they will vote.

  7. Katie June 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    I agree that change can be a positive force but I must express a level of agreement with both Gordon and Frank as well; members of the council in such a small community must be able to represent their voters on their own terms without too much pressure from a political group and, as such, political groups must be very clear about their manifesto if they are putting forward candidates for election. If there is a particular and militant line that a party wishes to follow it could skew and subvert more reflective and representative voting. I mean this generally rather than specifically; it does apply to HEART but is not aimed at them solely. I.e., I’m not trying to criticise those advocates of HEART, simply to point out a general problem that HEART is at a specifice risk of encountering/causing.

  8. Graham, Maidstone June 13, 2012 at 9:42 am

    A political party would give a Member the chance to access independent legal advice, and not just read whatever advice is issued from the Council solicitor, who has no doubt been briefed and befriended by the Chief Officers.

    There does need to be recognised second party, because although there is no official party politics, there is a coterie of Members who are affiliated to the ‘Chief Officers Know Best’ party. There must be a second party to counter this, otherwise let’s just do away with Members completely and remove this illusion of democracy, as that’s all it is.

    Gordon, you think you have the chance to change things, but you do not, you are a pest to them but not a concern because there will always be a core of Members in Full Council who do as they are told.

  9. Todd Stevens June 12, 2012 at 9:56 pm

    Gordon, simply speaking, its time to try somthing new as what we have currently clearly isn’t working. It will be uncomfortable for many whom are used to dealing with what we have-and human nature makes people scared of change. However, radical change is what is needed to cure the current dismally failing system we now have. Our Councillors should bite the bullet and push for change Gordon- real change. Get the power back and rid our community of its fear We need a regime we can respect-not fear. We have had enough of fear.

  10. Steve Sims June 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I completely agree with Kev. Our political system is adversarial, everywhere but here, it’s not perfect but it works, which is the root of the problem. It’s nicely twee having a none party political council, but it means we have 21 councillors with no manifesto, bar an amorphous “lets make everything better”, and no independent legal or finance advice from the parent party. As a result there is no agenda, aside from what comes from central government and/or from the officers. For example, did the new school initiative come from councillors? We have a reactive rather than proactive council and the officers can hardly be blamed for running the show, when there is nobody else to do it. I’m not particularly blaming the councillors; I don’t really see how they can do other than what they do because of our council’s structure. And pretty well all the no votes were from councillors, I can’t think of a sixth one, which is of interest.

  11. Frank Gray June 12, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    In the interest of honesty etc, it would be interesting to know what “interests” the leading lights of HEART represent, would they care to declare them? Who is behind the scenes driving what agenda?

    I declare that I am a relative of a school staff member and therefore have an “interest” in the developments of the investigations at the school.

  12. Kev Wright June 12, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    As I understand it Gordon, there will be a party line but any individual will still be able to make their own decision if they so wish. The purpose of HEART is clarity and democracy, so by its very nature this will be the case. The current situation of all councillors (despite many of them doing a fantastic job with sensible intentions) being independent hasn’t exactly been working though has it? If it had then the councillors would have more power and we wouldn’t have gotten into this disgusting mess that we’re in now. A bigger force is needed to represent the community, and let’s hope HEART manage to do that whilst being open and democratic.

  13. Gordon Bilsborough June 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I note that the HEART group intends to form a committee to select candidates to stand for election to the Council. It will be interesting to see if these prospective Councillors will be expected to follow the HEART party line or be free to vote as they wish. Every member of our present Council is an independent and not answerable to any political master ,,,, and long may it remain so. It has always been my firm belief that all local Council Members must be free to make their own decisions. They are (or should be) representatives of the whole electorate, not delegates of a particular pressure group. That is why I was one of the six people who voted against the proposal to set up a HEART “political” party. There is nothing to prevent any HEART supporter from standing for election and being judged as a person instead of by their party label.