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Unlock Democracy Management Board

February 2012

Peter Hirst (PH), Mark Valladares (MV), Stuart Weir (SW) (chair), Nan Sloane
(NS), Phil Starr (PS)

Tamsin James, Finola Kelly, Vicky Seddon

In attendance
Peter Facey (PF), Alex Runswick (AR), Jack Maizels (JM)

1 Minutes and Matters Arising

The minutes were approved as a correct record.

There were no matters arising.

2 Finances, Staff, Admin

Management accounts

PH noted that expenditure on printing was double what had been budgeted. PF
clarified that this was due to a proofing error on the front page which was only
spotted after the magazine had gone to print, and so the magazine had to be re-


PF stated that there were now two new members of staff, Jack Maizels, with the
role of Research Assistant, and John Franglen, with the role of Membership
Officer. PF also stated that UD is looking to recruit more volunteers.

Health and Safety

There was nothing to report


PF summarised UD’s fundraising work. In particular he reported that UD is at
stage 2 of the Nuffield bid, applying for nearly £3500 from the James Madison
trust, applying for 2 EU grant funds and exploring the possibility of the Barry
Amiel and Norman Melburn Trust fund research fellowship to fund a staff
member for 12 months to look at either party funding or the social-economic
background of people in politics. NS noted that the ECHR had done research into
the route into politics.

Office Move

PF explained that the move will now take place at the end of March. PF also
advised there is a potential tenant for Cynthia St, who wants air conditioning
installed (in exchange for a higher rent) but negotiations are ongoing.


PF advised that increasing pay in line with RPI is not in the employment terms
and conditionals but was the custom and practice of NPN. Each year the MB is
asked to approve this and last year the staff were told that a change to CPI was
likely. He added that in recent years the government and public sector had
switched to CPI where inflation pay rises were given at all.

MV noted that the difference would have saved £1700 last year, so not huge, but
5.2% pay increases may not be sustainable and may jeopardise jobs. PF pointed
out that the inflation figures were likely to fall, and further discussion followed.

It was agreed that it should be an aspiration to pay RPI, but the decision should
be made by the MB on an annual basis, if it can be afforded, with the priority
being securing jobs.

3 Rodell

PS stated that Rodell is not making the money that he had hoped it would raise.
Letting out the office is the most important thing, the proposed 10 year lease with
a 3 year break clause would make a huge difference. The main priority remains
establishing the advisory board.

4 Membership

PF circulated 2 lists for approval, one of would be paid members and another list
of those applying for free membership, both grouped by location.

The new members were approved.

PF advised that there had not been an enthusiastic response from the
organisations that were approached, but that this was not surprising, as it would
be akin to handing over members. The positive responses were from LCER and
CFER. Although these were approved before Christmas, there were not achieved
until after 9th January, due to the Christmas office closure and staff using annual

PH asked if it would be possible to have access to graphs of the total
membership over time, PF advised that there should be a regional breakdown for
next time, and that the total membership would depend on how feasible it is to
produce. AR advised that it should be available to Council, but could also go to
the MB.

There were also delays in the other organisations sending out the offer. PF
informed the MB that he had received a request from Stuart Hill (SH) to push
back the election timetable. This would allow CFER and LCER to phone round
members who did not have email addresses to notify them of the free
membership offer and for them to join in time to participate in the council

There was wide ranging discussion of this proposal. NS indicated that SH had
also phoned her to argue in favour of delaying the elections. However, her view
was that as the election timetable had already been circulated in the initial free
membership email it would be inadvisable to change it.

The MB strongly rejected the proposal to further extend the election timetable
and noted that members of CFER and LCER still had over 2 months to join UD if
they so wished.

5 Campaigns / Project


PF advised that the civil servant in charge of lobbying transparency consultation
had tweeted that she wished UD “would die”, she was no longer in charge of the
consultation and that her replacement was more supportive. MV noted that it was
generous not to ask her to be fired for breaching the civil service code. PF added
that he actively decided against a witch hunt, and the Civil Service in general
have become more friendly towards UD since the incident.

Voter registration

PF stated that he believes it is likely the opt-out will be dropped, although the
government is reluctant to keep the ability of EROs issue fines. The real danger
is the 2015 boundary review in combination with IER, which will tend to over-
represent rural areas, and will be perceived by Labour as gerrymandering. UD
have kept away from the term gerrymandering in order to avoid politicising voter
registration. This will be what UD concentrate on, now waiting for opportunity.

There are 2 options, either delaying 2015 boundary review or combine the
electoral register with population data, though work on this is yet to begin. There
was then a discussion, debating the virtues of basing boundaries on populations
or registers, the distinction between support for the boundary review and for IER,
and how the Government must act and be seen to act in a fair manner.


SW praised AR for the House of Lords roundtable event held in January. PF
advised that the Joint Committee should finish on the 29th March and that the
reforms will be in the Queen’s speech.

Vote Match

PF advised that there will be 9 university versions of Votematch, running in the
next few weeks. There are also preparations for the US Presidential election and
London Mayoral election being made, although the latter does not yet have a


PF advised that there were serious concerns that the new regulations could
undermine the SCA process, effectively making it a form of consultation.

Party Funding

PF advised that Sir Christopher Kelly had in principle agreed to speak at a public
event on the need for party funding reforms but dates and other speakers had yet
to be agreed. An extensive lobbying programme is underway to prevent this.


AR advised that there was to be a meeting on Thursday

EU Transparency

PF advised it was unlikely UD would have the capacity to campaign on this issue.


PF noted the IPPR report had been published, showing that 30% of people
wanted more power at local level. Meetings have also been arranged with Labour
MPs, Lord Maclennan and Lib Dem policy team.

PF reported that he had given evidence to the Political and Constitutional Reform

7 A.O.B

AR advised that she had been asked to give evidence on Freedom of
Information, and would welcome any input.

Council Meeting

Council meeting is currently scheduled to take place in February, proposal to
move it to April.

PF advised that there would be a large gap between the February and the July
meetings, and the management consultants (KPMG) would not be ready in time
for February. He also advised that UD would not be able to go back to the JRRT
for funding until KPMG report, which would put this back to July. PH raised
concerns of those who have already paid for their travel, and PF acknowledged
that these costs would have to be covered. AR suggested the 21st of April, and it
was agreed that this date should be proposed.

It was agreed that Council should be consulted about the possibility of moving
the next meeting to 21st April

The next meeting of the Management Board is Tuesday 17th April 2012.