Norwich Greens launch idea of "Open Council"

6 August 2010

Norwich Green Party candidates and councillors will take to the streets on Monday to find out from local people how Norwich City Council could be more open and responsive.

At a time when the Council faces difficult decisions, because of budget cuts imposed by the new coalition government, Greens believe it is essential that there is maximum transparency in everything the council does. Councillors need to listen more closely than ever before to what local people say about how the money should be spent.

With Green Party support in Norwich among the strongest in the country, the Norwich Greens could be the largest party on Norwich City Council after the 13-ward local council election on September 9th. The Norwich Green Party is pledging to do all they can to protect front-line services in the face of what has been described as the government’s “blunderbuss” approach to public spending cuts. (1)

At 11:30 on Monday (August 9th), Green Party candidates and councillors will put themselves in the front line of public opinion by setting up an interview point on the corner of St Peter’s Street between the Forum and City Hall.

They will sound out local people on ideas for more openness:

- Should council meetings be taken out to local communities?

- Should there be more "participatory budgeting," where citizens have a direct say in the allocation of part of the Council’s financial resources? (2)

- Should local people be asked for examples of council wastefulness, where money could be saved?

- Should they be able to choose priorities for spending and for cuts?

For those who may not have time to stop and talk, there’ll also be a suggestion box for written ideas that people would like the Greens to consider.

Claire Stephenson, former Green group leader on the council and now seeking re-election, said:“A few weeks ago I persuaded the Council to make the first move towards more openness. Councillors from all parties agreed to improve the system for scrutinising decisions that the ruling Executive councillors take.

"Information about the way the council works and the decisions it makes should be made available to far more people who live in the city.

"Now, with the election coming, we want to show we’re serious about moving further towards the Green vision of a City Council fully open to community participation. Part of that is to find out exactly how the people of Norwich want us to handle the difficult choices ahead, so we’re going out to ask them.”

The "Open Council" initiative is one of three main themes of the Green Party local election manifesto to be launched on Monday.

The Greens also want to take advantage of new arrangements which make it affordable for more households to opt for renewable energy and high-grade insulation to save money on their fuel bills, which can be done either by investing in partnership with energy companies, or by setting up our own Energy Services Company (or "ESCO").

The third strand of the Green manifesto will be a call to support the local economy partly through the "Buy Local" network. (3) This not only encourages Norwich people to seek out locally produced goods and services but also encourages local businesses to sign up others as suppliers.

Notes

1) www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk

2) http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/

3) www.buylocalnorfolk.org.uk

3) The full by-election manifesto of the Norwich Greens will be available from Monday at: www.norwichgreenparty.org.uk

 






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