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15:59 Tuesday 25 August 2015  Written by Gavin Ames

Opinion: Could 'flatpack' model resurrect RBWM's democracy?

Gavin AmesIf at the next local elections the Conservatives put up a startled jellyfish as their candidate for Bray, it would probably be elected, as most people vote for their favoured party (usually with Theresa May and David Cameron in mind) rather than check on the prospective individuals.

So hypothetically, you may elect somebody who poorly represents your views.

The Tories hold 54 out of the 57 seats locally. It would be surprising if this mandate didn't go to their heads. It may bring about some complacency even.

There has been discord lately that they are forgetting they work for us. Even a petition signed by 1,600 people asking them to rein in this perceived arrogance after giving nearly half a million quid to one councillor's pet project school and not a bean for most others in the area produced a 'there is no case to answer' response, as if they were beyond reproach.

Not a hint of humility. No accountability. No transparency. This raises fears of cronyism at its very worst. Anyone with differing views was called ‘opponents’.

Even the ‘facts’ changed several times as the sorry mess unfolded.

A few weeks back the Advertiser put a big headstone on its front page with a headline 'RIP Democracy'. So what next? Someone needs to challenge this bloated corpse of self-righteousness? Even my mother, a dyed-in-the -wool Conservative has been appalled by proceedings. I imagine there are thousands of others like her.  Let me stress, this isn’t an anti-Tory rant.  I hugely admire the work Theresa May does in the constituency (as I have said before).

In Frome, Somerset, they have successfully adopted a system known as ‘flatpack democracy’. This rejects the traditional party politics in favour of taking power at a local level to enable local people to have a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives.

This is a coalition of self-styled independents who believe democracy needs a drastic revival. In Frome, in May, all 17 seats were won by the Independents for Frome (IfF). They have given a new energy and purpose to decision- making. Maybe what Maidenhead needs is an IfM? If they put up 57 candidates next time around then who knows? I am sure there are a few in the Fair Funding for All Borough Schools group who may like to stand.

People with backgrounds in all the political parties could play a role where there would be no 'whipping' so people could vote how they think, rather than how their leader tells them to vote, as happens currently. This model has also had success in Newbury and in part of George Osborne’s constituency.

Many disillusioned local people who care about the town and can listen as well as talk could be tempted to stand next time.

Would you?

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