Heart Members Call For Councillors To Be More Accessible

Heart of Scilly’s AGM

Councillors need to be more accessible and accountable, and hold regular surgeries.

That was the view expressed by some members at the Heart of Scilly annual general meeting last night.

Committee member Mark Prebble said some councillors were more accessible than others, with some being “evasive” when their constituents have called for meetings.

When Heart was formed, the community group wrote to all 21 elected members but only 3 or 4 actually replied.

Mark explained that the lack of response concerned him and that is why he became engaged with Heart.

Carmen Stevens felt it would be better if councillors published their private email contact details rather than use their official Council email addresses. There were concerns about using the Town Hall network for private matters.

Di Barnes’ idea of a regular meeting between locals and councillors at a set venue was well received, while Fran Grottick said Mike Hicks had been in favour of surgeries but many councillors had been preoccupied with recent events.

Barneslie Ward explained how similar town meetings where held in the 1960s.

That’s something Heart will pursue and they also want at least two of those public meetings involving councillors before the May election.

Heart will ask members to come and explain what the councillor role entails and address the electorate, outlining their beliefs and policies.

Linda Wornes felt that locals aren’t clear what their councillors believe in and stand for. She claims that, “a leaflet ahead of an election isn’t enough.”

More work needs to be done to engage Off-Islanders and chairman Adrian Davies said there had been some “mutterings” from residents there.  Heart may hold meetings away from St Mary’s in the future.

Barneslie maintained that the two ring-fenced Off-Island Council seats should be replaced with a system where all islanders can vote for all candidates. He argued that the Off-Island situation is unfair as members can gain important positions, including chair of committees or Council, without ever facing a competitive election.

But Adrian said each Off-Island has its own problems and residents there need a distinct voice, although whether they need to be represented in the current way is debatable.

In all, 34 people braved the weather and cold conditions. Mark said the group had reached 50 members, which was impressive.

There was much talk about the Council election next year.

Heart won’t endorse candidates. Mark felt they would be on “thin ice” but they can provide support and help for candidates who follow the group’s transparency and ethical principles.

And as every potential candidate needs the written support of ten locals before they can stand, they could help in that process too.

Locals will be encouraged to come forward with ideas and concerns and to get involved in driving Heart.

Fran Grottick told the meeting that the constitution allows for co-opting so anyone who wants to serve on the committee should come forward.

During the meeting, Adrian Davies was re-elected to the chairmanship of the committee. Mark Prebble remains as treasurer and Fran Grottick was returned as secretary and press officer.

Diane Cidade took the vice-chairman role, a new post.


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