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Unlock Democracy Council Meeting

NCVO, The National Council for Voluntary Organisations
Regent's Wharf, 8 ll !aints !treet, "on#on N$ %R"
(e)ruary &*$$
Andrew Blick, Finola Kelly, Phillip Latham, Susan Murray, Stuart Weir
Alan Debenham AD!, Peter Da"ison PD!, Peter #irst P#!, $amsin %ames $%!, Mick Pitt MP!,
&icky Seddon &S! 'hair!, (an Sloane (S!, Phil Starr PS!, %ohn Stra))ord %S!
+n atten#ance
Peter Facey PF!, Ale*andra +unswick A+!, %ames ,raham %,!, a)ternoon only! -mily +andall
-+! a)ternoon only!, Ste"e Shaw SS!a)ternoon only!
$/ Minutes
The minutes of the last Council meeting were approved. The Management Board and AGM
minutes were received with interest.
&S commented that she had noted some errors in the A,M minutes. PF su//ested that i) 'ouncil
members had any comments on the A,M minutes they should be e0mailed to the o))ice as soon
as possible so that they can then be published on the website.
&/ Matters rising
&S asked about pro/ress on the website.
A+ replied that 1D had success)ully applied )or a /rant )rom the %++$ to )und the de"elopment o)
a new website with Blue State Di/ital so that the or/anisation would ha"e access to the )ull suite o)
campai/nin/ tools that BSD o))ers. She added that an initial desi/n brie) has been a/reed and the
contract has now been si/ned so work will start on this shortly. $he intention is that certainly a)ter
the re)erendum in May we will be able to use the new site to launch campai/ns on our other
priorities althou/h it may well be a"ailable be)ore that.
AD asked whether public )unds would be made a"ailable to the 2es to Fairer &otes campai/n.
PF reported that this would be clear by 34
March and would depend on whether lead
campai/ners )or both the 2es and (o campai/ns could be appointed by the -lectoral 'ommission.
$his had not been possible in the re)erendum on additional powers )or the Welsh Assembly. #e
added that this decision a))ected not 5ust whether the campai/ns recei"ed public )unds but also the
spendin/ limits )or the campai/ns.
0/ Director1s re-ort
i! Political update
PF reported on the re)erendum in Wales on increased powers )or the Welsh Assembly. 6t is
e*pected that the re)erendum would pass but that there would be a low turnout. #e then
commented on the current tensions in the relationship between the ,o"ernment and the Supreme
'ourt and the opportunities that this posed )or makin/ the case )or a written constitution.
&S asked about pro/ress on #ouse o) Lords re)orm.
PF replied that a dra)t Bill had been promised in December 7838 and that the ,o"ernment were
now sayin/ this would be published soon. A+ added that there would be )ull pre0le/islati"e scrutiny
o) the dra)t Bill by a %oint 'ommittee.
%S commented on the publication o) the 'abinet Manual and that this was in e))ect a step towards
a written constitution althou/h this is denied by the ci"il ser"ice. #e asked i) 1D had done any
work on this.
PF replied that that this would be a )uture area o) work )or the or/anisation but resources,
particularly sta)), would not be a"ailable to do this work until A)ter the re)erendum in May.
AD asked whether recall procedures )or MPs would be introduced.
PF replied that the Localism Bill has now been published but that proposals )or recall had not been
included. 6t is understood that it is pro"in/ problematic to )ind a workable proposal that would be
passed by Parliament. #e added that 1D is supportin/ amendments to the Localism Bill that
would introduce recall and make local re)erendums bindin/.
%S reported that proposals to )und 788 open primaries had been dropped.
(S commented that the 'entre )or Women and Democracy is doin/ work on the impact o)
/o"ernment proposals, includin/ those in the Localism Bill, on women. While there are /ood
thin/s in the Bill it is comple* and o)ten con)used. She added that the con)usion o"er recall and
localisms stems )rom a deeper ambi"alence about the nature o) our democracy. Do we ha"e
representati"e or participatory democracy9 Do we elect indi"iduals or parties and are those
representati"es mandated or are they )ree to "ote accordin/ to their own conscience.
AD asked about plans )or holdin/ a citi:ens con"ention and introducin/ "otes at 34. PF replied
that there were none at present.
ii! Finance and Fundraisin/ update
PF reported that two /rants had been recei"ed )rom %++$ to work on speci)ic pro5ects but that
spendin/ on the A& re)erendum, which was not included in the bud/et meant that the de)icit is
increasin/. For this reason the appointment o) 7 new members o) sta)), a Publications ;))icer and
a ,rants )undraiser has been delayed until the new )inancial year.
PF commented that 1D has mailed all o) the old 'harter << list on behal) o) the 2es to Fairer &otes
campai/n and althou/h this was e*pensi"e it has been bene)icial and has reconnected the
or/anisation with some early supporters.
iii! Sta))in/ update
PF in)ormed 'ouncil that A+ and %, are currently on unpaid lea"e )or = days a week until 4
a)ter which they will return to 1D on their pre0e*istin/ terms and condition o) ser"ice. #e added
that he is seconded to the 2es to Fairer &otes campai/n one day a week and that as the campai/n
pro/ressed other sta)) may be seconded as the need arose.
i"! +odell update
PF reported that there will be a meetin/ o) Directors on >
March and that sta)) are currently
e*plorin/ ways o) /rowin/ +odell?s assets.
2/ Cam-aigns u-#ate
i! 2es to )airer &otes campai/n
PF in)ormed 'ouncil that the re/ulated period be/an when the Bill was /i"en +oyal Assent and
that 1D has re/istered as a re/ulated participant in the campai/n. #e reported that (o7A& ha"e
run a series o) attack ads in local newspapers based on their calculation that the re)erendum will
cost @7A8m. 6t is e*pected that these ad"erts will be in the national papers ne*t month. #e
added that the polls were positi"e at the moment but there are still a lar/e number o) people who
ha"enBt made their minds up yet.
ii! &otematch
PF reported that 1D had been approached by $&C a $& station in 6reland to or/anise &otematch
)or the 6rish /eneral election. $his was success)ully completed despite the e*ceptionally short time
scale in"ol"ed. Appro*imately 7>,888 sur"eys were completed durin/ the election campai/n.
$here will be a pro5ect re"iew to e*plore whether this model o) &otematch bein/ entirely )unded
and run by a media or/anisation is "iable.
PF added that the o))ice is also currently workin/ with Leeds 1ni"ersity on a "ersion o) &otematch
)or their internal student union elections. $his is intended as a trial to e*amine whether &otematch
can be used )or internal elections.
The staff team and Matthew Oliver in particular were thanked for all their hard work on
Votematch and were congratulated on delivering Votematch on such a tight timetable.
iii! 'ampai/n )or the -n/lish re/ions
PF in)ormed 'ouncil that he and &S had met with the 'ampai/n )or the -n/lish +e/ions to talk
about the possibility o) 5oint workin/ on decentralisation. #e asked )or 'ouncil?s appro"al to
e*plore this )urther as lon/ as it didn?t create unnecessary bureaucracy or brand con)usion.
(S welcomed 1D doin/ work on this area and reco/nised the pre"ious contribution o) 'F-+ to
the debate, but e*pressed concern that as an or/anisation they took a "ery di))erent "iew o)
decentralisation )rom 1D. She asked )or con)irmation that any pro/ramme o) 5oint workin/ would
be )le*ible and re)lecti"e o) where we are today rather than )ocusin/ e*clusi"ely on debates about
structures. PF con)irmed that the discussions to date had re)lected this shi)t in the policy debate.
t was agreed that possible !oint working with C"#$ should be e%plored as long as it is
compatible with &' polic( and did not create unnecessar( bureaucrac(.
i"! Sustainable 'ommunities Act
SS spoke to the paper that had been circulated.
PD asked about the )inancial transparency pro"isions o) the S'A and whether these had been
)ully implemented.
SS replied that three sets o) local spendin/ reports had now been published and that these were
becomin/ increasin/ly transparent and comprehensi"e.
3/ Date of the ne4t meeting
A+ reDuested that the date o) the ne*t 'ouncil meetin/ be mo"ed as it clashed with her weddin/
to %,. PF added that as he was due to attend the weddin/ it would mean that no senior sta))
would be able to attend the 'ouncil meetin/.
t was agreed that the date of the ne%t Council meeting should be changed from )
*ul( to
*ul( and that all members of Council should be e-mailed with the new date.
'/ Organisational -riorities
'ouncil di"ided into /roups )acilitated by PF and A+ to discuss the or/anisational priorities
document that had been circulated. -ach /roup then reported back on their discussion and the
priorities they identi)ied included #ouse o) Lords re)orm, the case )or a written constitution,
localism and the need to en/a/e with issues around political non0participation. PF e*plained how
these ideas, to/ether with the membership sur"ey which will be completed in the Summer, will
)eed into )uture )undin/ bids and discussion at the A,M in (o"ember.
&S returned to the chair and drew the meetin/ to a close. She commented that she would be
writin/ to those members o) 'ouncil who had not attended the meetin/ to remind them o) the
pro"isions re/ardin/ attendance at meetin/s. She added that by the ne*t meetin/ A+ and %,
would be married and on behal) o) 'ouncil she wished them a happy day and an interestin/ li)e
The #ate of the ne4t meeting is !atur#ay $'
5uly &*$$/