Monday, 10 March 2008

South Tyneside Democracy Forum

A couple of days ago I mentioned how I had been involved in trying to set up a new political forum for the Borough. The group now has a name, a constitution and a set of aims and objectives.

~ The South Tyneside Democracy Forum (STDF)

~ The STDF has been born out of the concerns of the people of South Tyneside with regards to the apparent lack of openness, transparency and accountability in the democratic process and the need to ensure that the basic democratic rights of South Tyneside are both respected and upheld.

~ The STDF aims to: provide an impartial voice for the residents of South Tyneside, to lobby South Tyneside Council, the Electoral Commission, Central Government and other relevant bodies to protect the democratic interests of the people of South Tyneside, to obtain action on issues where individuals might be ignored, to fight bureaucracy and red tape that is effectively “gagging” the people of South Tyneside and to ensure full meaningful consultation on issues that affect the democratic processes within South Tyneside.

~ The STDF is not affiliated to, nor funded by any political party or local government body. We are therefore free thinking and able to act on behalf of all residents of South Tyneside without bias or political intervention.

The STDF’s objectives are:
~ To be open and transparent to all about our group and our objectives
~ To provide appropriate free advice for individuals, local communities and campaign groups on matters related to or arising from the current democratic processes.
~ To provide a “resource bank” – where individuals, groups and campaigns can access copies of legislation, case profiles and briefings on democracy issues, democratic processes and connected objectives.
~ To assist in providing access to legal and other professional services at low (or no) cost.
~ To provide speakers for local groups wishing to participate in the wider debate on democracy.
~ To campaign and lobby statutory/voluntary bodies and organisations concerned with the democratic process.
~ To provide financial assistance to individuals and local communities to enable them to make a legal challenge with regards to the validity of decisions made in the name of democracy.
~ To listen to the democratic concerns of all residents of South Tyneside and act in good faith on their behalf.
~ To promote STDF within South Tyneside and to encourage those disillusioned and/or disenfranchised to have a greater say in the democratic process.
~ To liaise with South Tyneside Council and other agencies concerned with democracy to promote wider participation in the democratic process.
~ Where it is practical to do so, STDF will work with, and give consideration to, all persons who hold positions of authority such as council officers, councillors and the police.
~ To ensure that all members receive fair and equal treatment and to promote understanding, cooperation and mutual support amongst members of all communities of South Tyneside
~ To encourage members of excluded groups to participate in the democratic system.

Still very much in its infancy, the firsts steps have been taken to provide an alternative method of promoting democratic practises outside the party controls which dominate this Borough. The next step will be to build a membership base from which things can move forward. Naturally, I shall up date you as things progress.

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