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Grassroots Democracy Summer Meet Up Saturday 6th July 2013

Attending: Daniel Henry (Leicester), James Graham (Unlock Democracy), John Volleamere (UD Merseyside & West Cheshire), Geoff Gay (UD Leicester), Lisa French (UD Leicester), Avtar Singh (UD Leicester), Martin Sears (UD Leicester & Republic), Peter Davidson (UD Manchester) and Emily Randall (Unlock Democracy). The meeting was very much a catch up and reflection on last few months. To extent with impending parliament recess, it had very much end of term feel.

Outcome from brainstorming
Gender Getting and keeping women involved our campaigns is not easy. But there are few things we agreed as groups we should be doing including: ● Ensuring all our public meeting have at least one female speaker ● Hosting public meetings with the Counting Women In campaign Media How to get media attention was discussed. The key is thing is doing something interesting that has a local hook. We talked about how local media is struggling and timing press releases. ● Agreed to add local group organisers to the Unlock Democracy media list which HQ send our press releases to. ● Local groups agreed to adapt the press releases to give them a local hook and to send to local media General Ideas ● We had a lot of questions on UD‟s policy - We agreed to set up a monthly policy questions from local groups. ● Groups to set up meetings with Steve or Ameneh from Local Works to talk about the act. ● UD agreed to put pressure on local works SCA neutral guide - supermarket „not in our remit‟. ● Groups agreed to help build FAQ page for individual campaigns.

Upcoming Campaigns
Open Up Local Elections Unlock Democracy is planning to establish a campaign to get local authorities to support a proposal made to national government under the Sustainable Communities Act to give people a right to petition for a referendum to change the voting system to elect their council. This is with a view to both highlighting the need for electoral reform and how the Sustainable Communities Act can be used to demand powers be devolved to local authorities. The focus of the campaign will be on areas which already have no overall control and have a multi-party council where we are likely to receive more support, but anyone living in England will be able to participate. The plan is to launch this campaign in the early autumn. We need local groups to: ● Sign up to the campaign ● Help us scrutinise the campaign before we launch nationally - we want your questions ● Organise letter writing sessions Lobbying Transparency The government produced a Lobbying Transparency Bill in the week before recess. The bill is not fit for purpose and only covers 20% of the lobbying industry. The bill HQ have done a formal and media focused response. Before the bill was published HQ have produced their own draft Transparency Bill. Now one of our key goals will be getting draft bill in front of MPs. Local groups can help by: ● Submitting motions to local parties (if individuals are members). ● Write to MPs after proposal is published ● Organising public meetings with MPs to debate the issue locally Voter Registration In its early stages but we are planning to build resources and enable groups to run local campaigns. To get involved email Emily to let HQ know if your group would like to be involved.

What have we all been up to since the last meetup? Unlock Democracy has been cracking on with our money in politics campaign. The last couple of months have seen Lobbying transparency hit the headlines. We worked with BBC‟s Panorama with on the Cash for Questions episode that exposed Patrick Mercer. Combined with the Times‟ investigation and the Panorama episode, our own action targeting David Cameron, the government made the announcement to produce proposals for a register before recess. Since March we have campaigned to Open Up Lobbying by ● Organising letter writing campaigns to the party leaders in the House of Lords to clean up lobbying, and to David Cameron directly. ● Hosting a meeting in parliament with Jon Trickett MP, the shadow minister in charge of lobbying reform, in which he publicly backed our campaign for a robust register. ● Team up with Spinwatch to publish a draft lobbying transparency bill - our vision of what the government‟s legislation should look like. ● We made the case for reform on the BBC, Channel 4, Sky News, most local BBC radio stations and all national newspapers.- including Alex Runswick and Peter Facey being interviewed over 20 times on one day ● Continue to push the government to open up talks on lobbying. Other areas we have been campaigning: ● Fighting the government‟s plans to restrict Freedom of Information (with the Campaign for Freedom of Information) ● Secret ballots and EU ● Party funding Internally we been going under a big change over the last few months. Partly due to reduced funding, we have had to slightly reducing our number of staff. We have said goodbye to Peter Facey who has stood down as director and recently moved to Australia. Sadly that not only colleague we will be saying goodbye to as our Campaigns Manager James Graham has opted for redundancy as a part of the restructure. James will be leaving in September but plans to continue campaigning at a local level with London for Democracy. Alex Runswick our deputy director has been promoted to director and is now in post. From September we will have a new research officer in the place. We will be recruiting for this role imminently. Starting in September, Emily Randall will be in the new post of

Campaigns Officer. This a combination of her current role and the Campaigns Manager role. On technology note, we have recently switched providers for our campaign tools (these include the ones for mass emailing supporters, setting up petitions and writing to your MP). The website will continue to look the same however we will not have the events registration tool until this is replaced. What does this mean for local groups? Alex will be available for speaking at local group events and we are still firmly behind supporting all democracy groups. However for the next three months, while have a new team of volunteers we still be running on reduced capacity. Primarily this means we won‟t be actively be setting up new groups till at least October We still have a programme of events and campaigns, that we would love you to be involved in. We will be able to continue to promote and support local events. This includes providing speakers, advice on what events to host and publicising events on our mailing lists. Where there are existing local groups and particularly those that have already had events, we will be able to provide more bespoke support. Of course we ask for as much notice as possible to promote. But this in short means we have reduced capacity and will not be able to chase or pester groups. Plus we will look to established groups to inspire others to action. This is a great opportunity for groups to pull together. We will still have a big agenda and lots of opportunities coming up over the next year.

What have the local groups been up to? Unlock Democracy Leicestershire have been ● Hosted a public meeting with over 40 people on “cynicism and politics” with a local MPs, a MEP, academic and Alex from Unlock Democracy chairing.. ● Set up Democracy Drinks and hosted talks on: ○ Lords reform. ○ Two more planned - Daniel and Republican. ● Campaigned to Open Up Lobbying by writing to MPs and local paper. This was backed up with references to the successful public meeting the group had hosted on lobbying.

Asked how they promoted their events. Publicised via Secular society, press release, contacted all political parties, community groups.Plus they ask for feedback from events to improve future publicity Leicestershire have upcoming events on PR and SCA meetings, which will be held in the Autumn/Winter. They have been looking at local events like Leicester Speaks to join up with. The group are keen to know when is the best to be sending press releases locally to support national campaigns. Unlock Democracy Manchester have been relatively dormant in the last few months, but have ● Public meeting for hustings in October with Friends of the Earth and had 100 attending. ● Running regular street stalls. ● Monthly meetings - usually 6-10 attending. Manchester have upcoming events including a public meeting - Democracy in Crisis with university. As well as planning to host more hustings with the next one being for the 2014 European Parliament elections The group are keen to know how to best work with universities and the student unions. Unlock Democracy Merseyside and West Cheshire have had a bit of surge of activity recently including ● Regular meetings of core activists - 8 including 2 of which are female. The coordinating committee of 3 who often do conference calls. The group formed in 2007. ● The group have been on the Merseyside radio and been quoted in articles in Liverpool post ● Held successful public meetings with Stephen Twigg MP (who is an active member of the group). ○ 25 people attended their meeting on Lords Reform in Oct ○ 40 people attended their Local Government meeting (including key community leaders and councillors) in April. ● The group organised with their Lib Dem to submit a motion at the local branch level. ● The groups have strong links within the local branches of the Labour Party.

The group have set themselves action plan with the help of HQ. The plan includes working on the local upcoming Democracy Review and being involved in the Open Up Local Elections campaign. The local group have a few policy questions Date of Next Meeting: Saturday 19th October in Liverpool hosted jointly with Unlock Democracy Merseyside and West Cheshire