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  • Writer's pictureMary Page

"No decision about us, should be made without us"

In May Bristol will have a referendum on whether we want to continue having the council run by one mayor, or by a team of elected councillors. You may think, why does it matter how the council is run?

For people who support having a Bristol mayor, democracy is about having an election once every four years, to pick one person to rule over us, for the next four years. They want people to turn up to vote but then have no power for the next four years.

People, who want to scrap the role of Bristol mayor, want to put control back in the hands of local councillors and their communities. We see democracy as a partnership because it’s our city, not just the Mayor’s. We think democracy is an everyday collaborative process where we can participate to ensure our views are given a fair hearing. We want power to influence collective decisions made by councillors elected by all communities. We think that's a better way to create a shared sense of belonging and respect for the stewardship of the city and its resources.

Supporters of a mayor claim that handing all the decision making power to one person “gets things done”. A recent Bristol Civic Leadership report has shown that’s simply not what happened. Besides the more important question is, has what has been done, been what most Bristol people wanted?

Good decision making is not about the quantity of decisions made; it is about the quality of those decisions and who’s views have been included. The quality of decisions is likely to better reflect what the majority of people want, if those decisions are made collectively by local committees with the opportunity for public input from all areas and political spectrums of the city.

The coming referendum will have at its heart the question, ‘How would you like Bristol City Council to be run?’ Ask yourself, do I prefer the kind of democracy and leadership that leaves power over all council decisions in the hands of one person, or would I prefer the kind where power and decision making is shared, and I can be involved if I choose?

I believe that our directly elected councillors deserve a seat in a committee decision-making table. I want our local representatives to be able to have conversations together, because no decision about us, should be made without us.

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